For the first 18 years of my life, I called Elkhart County "home." To be honest, there are few things I'd trade when it comes to living in Indiana's "county number 20," the mix of town, country, and proximity to big cities was pretty much just right looking back on it. And so, it was a special honor to get to "come home" today and speak to the Elkhart County Historical Society.
Before I offer a recap, let me say something about the ECHS's museum: It is a jewel and is something that shouldn't be missed. Housed in the former Bristol High School, the staff is great (and wonderfully professional on multiple levels), the facilities (both for giving a talk and in terms of exhibits) are top notch, and it has an outstanding collection. If you get the chance to swing by in Bristol: GO! http://www.elkhartcountyparks.org/properties_locations/rush_memorial_center.htm
That being said, on to the show! I had the distinct honor of talking about the book not once but twice. I say honor not because of what I got to say (while I try and tailor each presentation to my audience, in this case by adding a bit about Elkhart County's connections to Shumaker's dry crusade, I also try and convey most of the basics about Shumaker and the book itself) but who I got to say it to. Both sessions were very "Lantzer" (and Schrock) heavy--which is to say I got to speak about my book to most of my family, most of whom still live in Elkhart County and whom have never gotten to see me in full on "professor mode" before. That is a very special honor in and of itself, and a humbling one at that....this is after all, where I come from, and these are the people who helped make me who I am.
But, it wasn't just family who attended, there were also members of the community who came ready to ask questions. I was quite pleased to field a question in the afternoon session from the daughter-in-law of a 1940s era Prohibition Party candidate for office (in this case Governor of Indiana). Likewise getting to take a question from my high school history teacher (Mr. Riley) was a pleasure in and of itself. Plus, it was just great to see and talk with him after so long. Between him and my middle school history teacher (Mr. Smith) I was well prepared to figure out that History is what I wanted to do as a career once I got to college. And, since I've already given props to the NorthWood Panthers and Wakarusa Indians, I might as well make it a clean WaNee Community Schools sweep....and mention that my dear friend Amberly (a fellow Harrison Wildcat) made the trek over to Bristol as well (bringing along her husband for a lecture packed "date night").
All in all, a great day....made perfect by getting to come home to my darling wife in Indy and kissing my already sleeping kids good night. More on other things soon enough!