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Posted in Madison

My wife walks into a bar...

For some people this phrase would either be the start of a joke or simply not news at all. But for my wife, an ardent anti-smoker who doesn’t drink, this is news and I listened quietly when she said… “I forgot to tell you, I walked into a bar today.”

We have a bar up the street from us. This bar is currently advertising a “drunken chicken hoedown party.” A month or so ago it had a “Daisy Duke and Hot Buns Contest.” You get the idea. It’s not a bad establishment really, but it adds an element of humor thinking of Darlene walking into this place.

Apparently, this morning she walked up the street to our bank on the corner and, en route, she saw a glass beer stein sitting on the sidewalk in front of the bar. It was very broken, very jagged and very sharp.

On the way back from the bank, the bar had just opened, but the broken stein was still there.

“So I walked into the bar with the beer stein in my hand and said ‘Someone could get hurt with this.’ Everyone just stopped and stared at me. The look on everyone’s face with me with this sharp, jagged, broken beer stein in my hand.”

Only after a very pregnant pause did she bother to explain that the broken stein was found sitting on the sidewalk in front of their establishment. She asked the barkeep if he could throw it away, she petted the bar dog and walked out the door.

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to walk into a bar with a line like that. The reaction alone made my day!” she said.

Posted in Madison

Pretty nasty fire in downtown Madison

I honestly don’t feel like blogging about the fire that gutted our 104-year-old Elks Lodge here yesterday.

On one hand, it makes me sick to see any of our beautiful buildings damaged by fire. On the other I’m glad our fire fighters were able to contain the blaze to the buildings it did. I find it strange to be glad that it wasn’t worse when it was awful to begin with.

In all I think four structures were heavily damaged or gutted. Next door the old City Hall building was in better shape, but that’s not saying much with the roof largely gone and all the elaborate tin cornice work literally melted off the side of the building.
Two houses behind the Elks were also heavily damaged.

Today they announced the cause was a bad light ballast in the basement of the Elks.

I talked with the Elk’s ruler today and he said they hope to salvage the shell of the building. However, they won’t know what is even possible until they get engineers on site.

The Madison Courier has photos.

These buildings are not quite as old as others downtown. The Elk’s Lodge was built around 1902 and the old City Hall c.1880 I believe. Thus the brickwork may have survived better than some of the older buildings with softer brick. However, reproducing the tin work could take a chunk of cash and that is what I fear will be forever lost. There was a bad fire on Main Street maybe 9 years ago and the cornice has yet to be rebuilt. The homes around the corner were from the 1830s, but other than knowing the roof was about to cave in, I don’t know their condition.

News of the fire got around fast, but they did not describe well where the fire was located. Thus calls to town were flying. Some good friends who had just bought a building here called when they heard about the fire on Indianapolis radio. People were calling the library to see if we were open.

Thus here’s the location. It was on West Street in the block north of Main. We live about four blocks to the southeast and the library is about four blocks west of this location. (Click for an interactive map.)

location of fire in downtown Madison

I took some photos this afternoon for the library archives and I’ll post a few later.

Posted in Madison

A tragedy and a miracle

(From Darlene…)

Just a little over a week ago, I held our friends’ newborn son in my arms. He was less than two hours old. Proud Mom and Dad and seven year old sister all beaming happily. What a wonderfully cheering day that was!

Today the family narrowly avoided a tragedy. Our friend Hugh, the proud father, was working security for the local hydroplane race here – the Madison Regatta. Stationed at the Jefferson Street gate, he was just three feet from the the car that came screaming through the crowd and into the Ohio river.

As I searched for him along the riverfront today all I could think of was that little bundle in my arms not long ago, and that family that needs him. Hugh was there, right in the midst of it all. I hardly looked at the accident scene as I was led past it, so focused as I was at locating Hugh, so I could tell his wife he was safe. And Hugh was overwhelmed by the event as so many were. He saw it all and it was brutal.

I am thanking God for this family that is safely home together tonight. Others were not so fortunate and may our prayers be with them.

Posted in Madison

Madison Regatta tragedy

The Madison Regatta ended on an extremely surreal note today as a car traveling at high speed crashed through the crowd at the Madison Regatta and ended up in the Ohio River.

The driver barreled down Jefferson Street past our building and plowed through the Regatta gates, into the spectator area and ended up in the river. 11 were injured, four air-flighted to Louisville hospitals including the driver.

They quickly cleared the accident scene that was two blocks from our building.

Our friend was a gate guard for the Regatta. He told Darlene he was three feet away from the car as it “mowed people down.”

I’m now hearing the driver claims to have passed out at the wheel. The Louisville Courier-Journal was the first with web coverage.

update: A news conference reports the driver an 18-year-old Madison man—-Matt- Michael Bowen. Four people including one youth was critically injured and air-flighted to Louisville. 11 treated overall. Considering I am amazed at how few people were injured.

update: The AP article was on the front page of the NY Times website. What a way to make national news.

Witness David Edds, of Owensboro, Ky., told The Associated Press he heard a loud noise and saw a car in the air. ‘’I saw one young lady just frozen in her path, just standing at the water’s edge and the car ran directly over the top of her,’’ he said.

Spectators rushed to help the injured, Edds said.
‘’There was just a trail of folks laying on the ground in the path of where the car had gone,’’ he said.”

To be on the safe side, I heard they are searching the river for anyone that might have been dragged in by the accident. They’re going to hold another press conference at City Hall tomorrow morning.

Earlier in the event, the Miss Madison (U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto) barely avoided crashing into the starting line flag boat. Mark Campbell of the Madison Courier snagged a photo.

correction I miswrote the driver’s name. My apologies.

Posted in Madison

Noisy streets

It’s Regatta time here in Madison. It’s a time when partying seems to escape the usual Friday-Saturday night block.

Thursday features a battle of the bands on the riverfront and people loiter for hours thereafter. I have no real problem with it really, every town deserves to party. I just wish it was quiet enough on our corner to sleep.

As Darlene says “a water balloon is sounding really nice.” I’d prefer a rain storm personally.

Posted in Madison

Madison 4-11: A Landmark Day

Wow… I now live in a Nationall Historic Landmark!

The acting secretary of the interior was in town yesterday to give our absolutely wonderful historic district an upgrade… I now live in the Downtown Madison National Historic Landmark District!

Unlike Graceland, also named this year, we don’t have one house or one estate, we now have one of the nation’s largest (if not the largest) landmark districts with 144 blocks and 2,000 structures. With spring springing, this place is incredible. I’m so proud of this place and everyone who worked on this project. It is extremely well-deserved.

Our friends, both of whom worked long and hard on the designation, were joking they are thinking of writting “Madison NHL, IN 47250” on their mail from now on.

I’m heading off to a library conference today, so I can’t go into the wonderful details on how and why this honor, the highest in the nation, puts us on par with Savannah and Charleston.

Nor will I take a whole lot of time explaining how (or wondering why) the acting secretary of the interior called our wonderful small homes “shotgun shanties.”

I will leave you with the first of what I hope is many articles about our community from today’s Louisville Courier-Journal.

Posted in Madison

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