Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is Mother Nature A Wet?: Snow and the DC Book Talk

Let me be clear, I love Washington, D.C. I love going there, researching there, staying there, and getting to see friends and family. And if you can spend time (and I urge you to stay on Capitol Hill) in the midst of power (as well as people who want it and those who think they have it), it is just an awesome place to be -- whatever time of year.

Now, how does all this tie into Prohibition, not to mention Shumaker? Well, this past weekend (two days after the State of Union and the same day that President Obama met with Congressional Republicans) I arrived in D.C. The purpose was to do a little research, do some work, maybe relax a bit, and then talk to the IU Alumni Association's Washington, D.C. chapter about Shumaker, IU and Prohibition (including why Bloomington is still officially a dry campus -- the legacy of President William Lowe Bryan, who hired and nurtured Paul V. McNutt as a law professor, who in turn was the governor whose "little New Deal" undid Shumaker's life's work).

Sure, when I landed, it was cold. But it had been cold in Indiana, and I didn't really care that I had flown to Milwaukee before arriving at Reagan National. Off I went on the Blue Line Metro to Capitol South and I was there. After a little time at the Library of Congress, I passed by the Capitol building, the Supreme Court (which, by the way, sits right beside the Methodist Building, where Shumaker's co-religionists once kept watch and pushed for legislation ), through a sea of uniformed military (both foreign and domestic), and down to the Hyatt Capitol Hill for more work and some rest. After a night of rest, it was time to talk Shumaker to the alums.

And then, the snow hit! I walked throught it on the way to the Metro. Along the way, I noticed our government in action. There were good federal employees out shoveling the snowy walkways in front of our nation's buildings. Of course, in front of the Capitol, I got to see why we have a debt. One worker was spreading salt on the snow, and about 30 seconds behind him came someone with a little snow plow, plowing the freshly salted snow! But I made it to where I needed to be and waited.

The snow, of course, caused delays. I'm from Northern Indiana. I understand snow and what it can do to a city and what it can do to drivers who aren't (and even sometimes those who are) used to driving on it. So I was ready to wait. I ate lunch. I got to visit with some of my family (thanks Jeff, Spencer and Abby for making the trek), and then the IU folks began to slowly trickle in. I really appreciate the fact that they braved the elements, and am very thankful that Nikki White put the event (the centerpiece of which was the IU-IL basketball game) together. But of course there was the snow, which dropped attendance (not unlike the buzzer beater shot that gave IL the win), and meant I needed to get to the airport sooner rather than later. Nikki was gracious enough to invite me to come back the next time I'm in D.C., an invite I'll be taking her, and the Alumni Association up on.

The end result, was a good trip to D.C., although it wasn't over JUST yet. I got to the airport and then waited. My flight was supposed to leave at 3pm, we got pushed back to 330. We sat on the the plane for over 4 hours, before taking off for Atlanta. I made my connection with 30 minutes to spare, and got home safe and sound a bit before 1am.

The only conclusion I could draw from this D.C. adventure was that Mother Nature was a wet! However, the Shumaker bandwagon continues. Next stop: Noblesville, February 3!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Year -- Off and (Dry) Running

Some things are set, some other things are in the works....but here are where things stand at the moment:

In December, I made a massive "get out the word" push to libraries in Indiana and around the nation. So far, it is slowly but surely getting "Prohibition" onto more library shelves. I've been keeping track, somewhat on World Cat....though they don't cover everyone (including the Wakarusa Public Library and Yale University).

Next week (January 30), I'll be speaking to the Indiana University Alumni Association's Washington D.C. chapter about the book! I'm very excited to take Shumaker on the road.

That event will be followed up by a February 3 speaking event before the Hamilton County Treasure Hunters' Club. At the end of February, I'll be taking part in the Indiana Association of Historians annual conference...where I'll be reintroducing the state to Shumaker as well.

And then in March, I'm supposed to be talking about all things Shumaker before the Whitley County Historical Society.

In the works.....the release of an article in TRACES about Shumaker, Prohibition, and African Americans, a possible talk to the Marion County Historical Society, and maybe in 2011, bringing Shumaker to the Elkhart County Historical Society!