Monday, November 8, 2021
END OF AN ERA
Saturday was the final day of business for Mickey’s T-Mart, 748 S. Harrison St. Started by Harry Meeke in January 1978, the grocery store had been a mainstay in the downtown Shelbyville area for over four decades. | photo submitted by reader
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…
by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
Don Smith holds the ladder while his son, Justin Smith, hangs Christmas lights in the 500 block of Miller Ave. yesterday. The duo took advantage of temperatures in the mid-60s to prepare Don and Johanna Smith’s home for the holidays, which they’ve done for many years.
“I usually try to leave them up, but they all quit,” Mr. Smith said of the lights. “At least it’s a beautiful day out.”
COMMENTARY: Welcome home, Friends: Time with Afghan guests teaches life-changing lessons
by SCARLETT SYSE
We’re an unlikely trio.
Me, born and raised in the rolling hills of America’s Midwest. They, born and raised in Afghanistan’s stunning peaks and valleys. But there we were, together in the middle of a warehouse in the flatlands of Indiana.
For nearly two months, dozens of soldiers, volunteers and veterans have been part of a great humanitarian effort unfolding at Camp Atterbury in southern Johnson County. They’ve been welcoming and giving comfort to more than 6,500 Afghan guests.
Working right by our sides in a donation center have been two Afghan men — our partners. Their presence among us has been a blessing. Our shared tasks are not glamorous. We spend our time sorting socks, toothbrushes and shirts and lifting thousands of boxes into mounds of diapers, baby formula and soap.
Yet what else has risen from those days toiling together is something so precious and special that I worry about sharing it. Can words adequately convey how my improbable friendship with these men has reshaped me? Will I be ridiculed?
I know for sure that we must tell our stories no matter how messy or difficult they may be.
Looking into the eyes of other human beings and then listening to their struggles, fears, hopes and dreams are how we reveal our shared humanity.
One wise person once said: “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
To create bridges of compassion, empathy and healing across our significant cultural, racial and religious divides, we must reach out, get uncomfortable and vulnerable, and open our minds and hearts.
And that is what has happened in an Army warehouse about 17 miles from my home and 7,000 miles away from the homes of my new friends.
We tiptoed around each other at first, sharing the same pleasantries you would with anyone you just met. How are you? How is your family? With cellphones in hand, they showed me photos of their homes in Afghanistan and their children — proud dads who have risked everything to keep their young families alive and give them a better life.
Over time, we earned each other’s trust, and the conversations got deeper. I had millions of questions. They never once hesitated to open their hearts, share their lives, shed their tears and laugh out loud when something would get lost in translation or we’d make a joke together. We got so comfortable with each other that no one even blushed as we organized bras and underwear.
Our discussion topics were wide-ranging — the Taliban, Islam, the Quran, the Bible, COVID, food, life on a military base and in America, politics, U.S. foreign policy and more.
“Why would someone join the Taliban?” I asked. My friend’s response was smart and perceptive. “Empty pockets. Empty mind.” Translation: No economic opportunities. No education.
But what became clear early on is what fills the beating hearts of these good and decent men: family.
Their eyes soften, their tears fall, and I can literally feel the deep love and gratitude they have for their loved ones as they talk about them with complete reverence and respect.
Family drives their hopes and dreams.
“I do this all for them (children), not for me,” my friend said of giving up his country, his way of life and everything he has ever worked for.
In Afghanistan, adult children do not raise their voices when speaking to their parents. And once parents reach a certain age, the adult children consider it a duty and honor to take care of them.
“My parents,” my friend said, “are everything that is good.
They made me who I am.”
That love carries a searing ache now. They will likely never be able to gather with their parents and extended family again.
No birthday parties. No holiday get-togethers. No hugs.
“My parents are glad I am safe and in America,” my friend explained. “They understand. But I am not glad I cannot take care of them. That is what I should be doing.”
With their wives and children in their arms and by their sides, my friends made four harrowing trips to the airport before leaving Afghanistan on a crowded U.S. military plane. They had no idea where they would end up.
Each time they tried to escape, their fate was in the hands of the brutal Taliban stationed at checkpoints around the Kabul airport.
My friend was confronted by the Taliban after they rummaged through his luggage.
“What is this?” my friend recounted the Taliban saying, while holding up his computer disk.
Of all my friend’s material possessions, what did he cherish and choose to bring with him? A disk containing videos from his wedding. How lovely is that?
The Taliban threw the disk to the side. My friend stood up to them and picked it back up.
My friends are clear-eyed about the many challenges they and all our Afghan guests are facing. They are aware of the significant trauma they have been through and uncertainty they face in a new land. They shared concerns about loneliness and emotional wounds that can come with unimaginable stress.
One day one son was crying uncontrollably. He finally explained he was sad and upset because he misses his grandmother and the only life he has ever known. My friend did what we would all do to soothe his hurting son — he Facetimed his mom. As always, grandma’s love and special words calmed the young boy.
For the time being, my friend’s parenting approach is to be a friend to his children. When the family gets settled and the children are in school, he’ll go back to the traditional parenting role — teaching discipline, hard work and the value of a good education. For now, though, after so much upheaval, the children just need love, comfort and a friend, he said.
My friends are grateful for how Americans are helping them.
One friend goes back to the base and tells other Afghan guests about the generosity that has greeted him from soldiers, volunteers and veterans.
“I tell them people come to this warehouse and work hard and don’t get paid anything. I think some of them wondered (jokingly) if that (the not getting paid part) is crazy,” he chuckled. My friends are eager to establish meaningful lives, get jobs, enroll their children in school and better themselves through classes and more education.
Eventually, they hope to give back and be a force for good in their new country.
“We want to contribute, to do right by all of this,” he said.
One plea they made to me, and really all of America, was this: “Please be patient with us.”
In return, I asked my friends to be patient with us, too. This resettlement is an immense and difficult undertaking, and none of us will get everything perfectly right. There will be rough patches.
Frankly, some people have questioned why so many help strangers from a faraway place.
My answer is easy. I am a human being. My faith is unambiguous and tells me to run to those who can do nothing for us, to those in need and suffering regardless of their identity. Many of the world’s major religions profess that.
What are our lives for if not to lift up the most vulnerable, to show love, compassion and kindness even when it is hard and even when you are criticized?
Faith without action is hollow.
Maybe you can’t sort coats in a warehouse. But what you can do is even more important.
When our Afghan friends arrive in your community and schools, welcome them. Sponsor a family. Invite them over for dinner. Accept their invitations.
Bring them to your community festivals and basketball games.
Listen to their stories. Share yours.
When someone says something ugly and mean about them, do the right thing. Stand up for them. Be the good.
Right now, our Afghan partners can’t give us anything that society values — fame, fortune, power and access to power.
What they can and will give us are better than all of that.
They will be our friends. They will bring a richness and value to our communities and society. We will learn so much from them and discover new truths about ourselves.
How do I know that? Because those are the priceless gifts they have already given me.
To my two new friends, it has been the honor of my life getting to know you. You have been through the most desperate of human experiences, demonstrating incredible courage in an effort to give yourself and your family a good life. I am in awe of you.
America is your home now.
You belong here, and we are fortunate and grateful that you are with us and a part of us. With arms wide open, welcome my friends.
Shelbyville’s Tadashi Morimoto turned in a blazing sub-3 hour marathon (2:52:27) Saturday at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon race. Other locals to complete the marathon were Heather Proft and Aaron Walton. Half-marathon finishers from Shelbyville included Sarah Hunton, Tania Moore, James Proft and Nancy Stainbrook.
The Fairland Park recently received $36,000 through two grants, both through the Blue River Community Foundation, one from a Northwestern Hometown Community Fund and the other a racino grant approved by the Shelby County Council. Improvements to the park will include pickleball courts. Town council vice president Jeremy Miller thanked Robbie Stonebraker for his work securing the funding.
The Fairland Town Board last week discussed the possibility of contracting some form of law enforcement presence to patrol in light of incoming development to the area. The Town has reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department about hiring off-duty deputies, and hiring a town marshal and part-time reserve officers could be a possibility. Town Council vice president Jeremy Miller said the Town would look into the matter over the next few months. He also praised Sheriff’s deputies for the coverage they currently provide. “We’re better protected than you think we are. They do a good job,” Miller said to attendees, but he added there is only one deputy in the region at night.
NATIONAL NEWS: Julia Green, an Oregon professor and artist who memorialized inmates’ last suppers, died at age 60. She documented the final meals of 1,000 death row inmates by rendering each a cobalt blue glaze on a white china plate, a project called “The Last Supper.” In 2001 in Indiana, a prison granted an inmate’s request to have his mother make him chicken dumplings in the institution’s kitchen. Professor Green painted the word “Mother” on the platter that pays homage to that meal, The New York Times reported. Another Indiana inmate told prison officials that he’d never had a birthday cake, so they ordered him one, along with the pizza he had requested, which he shared with 15 family members and friends in 2007. Professor Green painted a cake that bristles with candles. The exhibition, now containing 800 plates, is on view at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Wash., until Jan. 23.
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2001
The Morristown Plan Commission gave a local man 60 days to clean up the site of a proposed theme park on W. Main St. The man said the lumber saying out in the open and cosmetic issues with his house would be resolved once his park, to be called Pioneer Village, was underway.
The Gateway Trio - comprised of Pat Brunner, Ed Moore and Larry Lewis - announced plans to appear in Shelbyville, their first local performance since 1999, when they appeared with the Oak Ridge Boys. Brunner invited people who were in the SHS Show Group from 1965 to 1970 to attend the concert to be recognized.
30 YEARS AGO: 1991
A second Salvation Army Thrift Store opened, at 922 E. McKay Road. The Salvation Army had a one-year lease on the two-story building that formerly housed a machine shop.
About 60 bidders and auction staff escaped to safety moments before flames ripped through the selling arena and storage areas at Family Auction, 1220 Old Franklin Road. Stunned by the size of the fire and chilled by freezing temperatures, bystanders watched as firefighters controlled the fire. About 30 firefighters were on the scene, although they were delayed because they had to use about 2,000 feet of hose to get water close enough to put out the fire.
40 YEARS AGO: 1981
Major Hospital Maintenance Manager Jerry McKenney said the wall-mounted toilets in the new hospital weren’t holding up as well as the previous floor-mounted models. Three of the toilets had started to crack away from the walls, typically when sat on by a “heavy” person, he said.
50 YEARS AGO: 1971
Mayor Ralph VanNatta invited Mayor-elect Jerry Higgins to become a consultant to the mayor on Dec. 6 and continue through the end of the year. Higgins would be paid at the salary rate of Mayor VanNatta for the month.
60 YEARS AGO: 1961
Local businessman David Watson, 25, was looking for someone to operate his Watson Tire Recap Service at 220 S. Pike St. after being recalled to active military duty. Watson’s letter had initially gone to someone else named David Watson. The mistake was sorted out by the Army, and Watson was given just five days to appear at Fort Lewis, Wash. He appealed the quick reporting date and was given a delay until Jan. 8.
The Shelbyville Board of Works ordered pedestrian crosswalks to be painted at all four corners surrounding Shelbyville Junior High School. The board also voted to put up a stop sign on Columbia Ave. and extend one-way traffic for one more block on W. Jackson St. In other action, the board authorized payment to help pave Windsor Drive, a new addition in Lantana Estates.
70 YEARS AGO: 1951
Jim Mewborn, the Shelbyville halfback who set a state season scoring record with eight touchdowns against Greensburg, was named to the “honorable mention” list of the United Press’ “All-State” football line-up. Mewborn was the only player in the South Central Conference to be chosen.
More than 700 tickets had been sold by the Lions Club for the annual minstrel show, to be held at the Strand Theater. The program was built about a barbershop scene and the cast depicted various people who visited the shop. Katie Hinschlaeger provided music for the show and Harry Hiatt portrayed the barber. Dick Fish acted the part of the typical barbershop shoeshine boy and the manicurist and janitor was Hubert Dellekamp and Paul Sirkus. Among those visiting the shop were a minister, boxer and his manager, town dude, lawyer, doctor, undertaker, police chief and a mother. The various parts were played, respectively, by Ted Hotopp, Stanley Frank, Russell Brandenburger, Donald Gordon, Perry Cross, Dick Conger, Frank Stine, Earl Kelley and Bob Ferrell.
80 YEARS AGO: 1941
Shelbyville Republican columnist (and “astrologer and philosopher”) El Hamid predicted Hitler’s attempted invasion of Russia would fail, that Japan would get into the war, and that the United States could not avoid involvement. He predicted Japan would “suffer untold misery.” El Hamid also predicted a likely Wilkie victory for the Republican nomination and presidential election. “His opposition will be weak,” El Hamid said.
90 YEARS AGO: 1931
Temple Hill Mausoleum president Milton Bass posted an advertisement to purchase plots in the “beautiful, modern burial tomb.” The ad read, “Why place loved ones in a cold, damp grave when you can lay them away in a warm, clean, dry, sanitary tomb with home-like surroundings, and, too, with less outlay of money?”
100 YEARS AGO: 1921
Plans for a local Armistice Day celebration were announced by the American Legion, Women’s Auxiliary and War Mothers. “A parade of former soldiers, War Mothers, members of the Legion Auxiliary, soldiers of other wars, and school children of the city, has been planned for the morning,” The Republican said. The line would start at the high school building and proceed to the Public Square. “Two minutes of silent prayer, in honor of the unknown American soldier who would be buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington on Armistice Day, will be observed,” the paper said.
A farmer named Mr. Cole, of near Shelbyville, said he had been burning corn for fuel in his home. He said it was cheaper than coal.
Elton Lee Linville passed away on Thursday, November 4, 2021 in Batesville. He was 77 years old. The son of Harold and Edna (Kuhn) Linville was born on May 17, 1944 in Shelbyville, IN. In 1962, Elton graduated from Shelbyville High School before earning his degree from Hanover College in 1966 followed by his MAT from Indiana University.
Elton worked for Sunman Dearborn School for 41 years before retiring in 2007. He taught, social studies, was a high school counselor and spent many summers teaching drivers education. After he retired, he worked at Ivy Tech Community College for a year. Elton met the love of his life, Sherry Stone, and married her on August 23, 1969 in New Albany, IN.
Outside of school, the pursuit of collecting, researching, buying and selling American Brilliant Period cut glass became a passion of the couple. This hobby/business was the reason for traveling all over the US. A treasured bonus of all the traveling has been the many friends they met. As an active member of the American Cut Glass Association, Elton served as a district director, board member, chapter president, speaker, dealer, convention chairman, and Anderson Study Group member along with chairman and member of the authenticity committee.
Other hobbies included cooking (being part of some dinner clubs) and music. After being involved in the college choir and chamber singers at Hanover, Elton sang for numerous weddings and funerals.
He belonged to several education organizations, Indiana State Teachers Assoc., National Education Assoc., and Sunman Dearborn Teachers Assoc. serving in various ways for the local and district groups. Elton was a member of St. John’s UCC Huntersville, where he served on the church council and sang in the chancel choir, men’s choir and ecumenical choir along with being a soloist.
Elton was known to be a patient person. He was kind, caring and always saw the positive in everyone. He usually avoided confrontation and being the center of attention, but was very easy to talk to and always a gentleman. Sherry’s grandmother, always said he was ‘the answer to her prayers” for Sherry.
Survived by his wife, Sherry; nieces Diane (Tim) Shackelford of Indianapolis, and Debbie Hyatt of Whiteland; nephews Tom (Maryann) Crafton and Jerry (Peggy) Crafton, both of Winter Haven, FL. Preceded in death by parents, and sister, Janice Crafton.
Funeral Services will be Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 10:00am at St. John’s United Church of Christ, (Huntersville) in Batesville. Pastor Joey Feldmann and Rev. David Johnston officiating. Memorials may be given to St. John’s UCC Elevator Fund or East Central HS Senior Scholarship Fund. They may be brought to services or mailed to: Meyers Funeral Home, P.O. Box 202, Batesville, IN 47006. Please feel free to leave a memory or a message of comfort to Elton’s family in the online guestbook at www.meyersfuneralhomes.com.