A little boy’s thoughts revisited.



[Sculptor: Myra Reynolds Richards (1882-1934); photo: en:User:Pollinator, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

My father was a Methodist minister which meant I was a PK or preachers kid, which meant I grew up as a child living in a Parsonage, which also meant my father and mother and I would move to a different town every four or five years, which then meant in June of 1935 at the age of six months we moved from the quaint little town of LaGrange IN to the pleasant little town of Greenfield IN, which meant my father was now the minister of Bradley Methodist Church, which also meant we were now living in the Parsonage at 503 E Main Street. Hey! Bear with me this does get better…

I don’t recall much about my first three years; except I do remember my deep-seated concern about the well-being of a man standing high up on a granite base in front of the Hancock County courthouse. When I first saw the man, I yelled to my father, “Daddy that man might fall off and get hurt”. My father patiently responded, “It’s alright son this is a statue of James Whitcomb Riley, and he won’t fall off”. Well, that didn’t satisfy me, I fretted about the man every time we drove past the courthouse. It had almost become a young child’s obsession; then my mother started to tell me about the man and read me wonderful poems. I imagined Little Orphant Annie telling me the Gobble-urns might get me, my shooting the bear in The Bears Story or hearing the old tramp describe a nose like a Bartlett pear or following the many exploits of Raggedy Ann.

I also began to understand my connection to the Hoosier poet. We lived on Main Street the same street as Riley’s boyhood home; in fact, my father’s church was located only five houses from the Riley home at 250 W Main. In 1940, when I started the first grade, it was of course in the Riley school. The other day I drove past the Hancock County courthouse. There still standing was James Whitcomb Riley. It is good to know he is not falling off.

Contributed by: Max Hill

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2 thoughts on “I Saved James Whitcomb Riley

  1. I went toJames Whitcomb Riley grade school No. 43 at 40th and Capitol Ave. in Indianapolis. We learned Riley’s poems and stories! During the time he lived, death was a constant companion; many of his poems were poems of grief. My favorite poem was was “Prayer Perfect.” Here is the 2nd of 2 verses:
    “Bring unto the sorrowing all release from pain.
    Let the lips of laughter Overflow again.
    And with all the needy O divide, I pray,
    This vast treasure of content That is mine today.”

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