Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who’s Here?

I can’t let this day get away without acknowledging a place I called home for six years of my life.

It was on this date back in 1816 that Indiana became the 19th U.S. state.
Soon after, a whole posse of people there voted to officially label themselves as “Hoosiers” rather than Indianans or Indianites.

While the origin of this word is still debated, the most common explanation goes something like this –

Back in the old Midwest, frontier strangers used to shout “Hello, the cabin!” to avoid being shot. Apparently Indiana folk were known for their loaded weaponry, hair triggers, and paranoid flavor. In response to the shout, the cabin residents would holler, “Who’s here?” But sadly, they tended to slur, so it sounded less like a question and more like a questionable “Hoosier.”

Did I mention that southern Indiana was quite famous for its moonshine?

Anywho, all that slurring led to a good bit of giggling and “Hoosier” name-calling.

But in a brash display of puffed up Indiana pride, the frontier cabin folks declared (with a hefty slur, I’m sure), “You cannot be vexin’ us with youin’s name-callin’ dadgummit, ‘cause that’s what we be callin’ our own selves from here on out!”

Unfortunately however, it didn’t really matter how much pride they conveyed…
or how much cash they poured into their PR campaigns.
The rest of the world held fast to the notion that Hoosier was a mighty good synonym for a whole heap of H words...
like hick, hayseed, and hillbilly.

Even in the late 20th century, my husband ran headlong into this harsh reality.

After college he was hired by a firm in Wisconsin, so he took a trip to Madison to look for his first apartment.

His first phone call went like this:

Potential Landlady: Where ya from?


PL: Well, I’ll be darned…a Hoosier!

Um, yes.

PL: You know the thing about Hoosiers, don’t ya?


PL: They’re SOOOO adaptable! Why, if a Hoosier didn’t have a bathtub, he’d bring in a horse trough!


PL: Vice-a versa!

Did I mention that folks from Wisconsin proudly refer to themselves as Cheeseheads?

PROMPT: What’s special about a place you’ve called home? Write up something delicious about that local flavor. But if you’ve had the misfortune of residing where it’s more Wonder Bread than wonder – no worries! Simply take a walk on the hayseed side instead. Grab yourself a little inspiration from Pixar’s Tow Mater, get happier than a tornado in a trailer park, and go to town!


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