The Herald Bulletin

August 12, 2013

Underwood column: Callaway Park speaks eloquently of community that cares

The Herald Bulletin

---- — A park can say a lot about a community.

Expensive playground equipment speaks of conspicuous wealth. Intricate landscaping suggests an artistic emphasis. Historic markers signify civic pride. Overgrown pathways indicate apathy or financial distress.

Callaway Park in Elwood says, “Let’s get together!”

Callaway isn’t large by some standards, but the park and nearby sports complex still exude spaciousness while offering a variety of recreation: a swimming pool, basketball courts, baseball and softball diamonds, a skateboard course, a sand volleyball court and a paved walking path invite enthusiasts of sundry pastimes.

Soon, three horseshoe pitches will be added to Callaway’s offerings. Friday morning, a pair of men were busy working to lay out the pitches so that concrete could be poured and the area prepared for next weekend’s Glass Festival.

Another team of workers could be found at the opposite end of the park, measuring vendor spaces for the festival along the main path through the park.

Callaway, established in 1927 on land donated by Henry C. Callaway, has a rich history. Republican presidential candidate Wendell Wilkie, an Elwood native, accepted his party’s nomination during an Aug. 17, 1940, rally at the park. A crowd estimated at 250,000 crammed Callaway and the surrounding streets to hear his words and catch a glimpse of him. Wilkie lost in the general election to Franklin Roosevelt, but he remains Elwood’s favorite son.

A historic marker commemorating the Wilkie rally stands near one of Callaway Park’s most interesting features. The large, blond-brick shelter house is a stout structure with squat towers at each of its four corners. Twenty-four heavy wooden picnic tables are lined up inside the shelter, and six garage-style doors are open and, combined with overhead fans, keep it cool inside.

The park is laid out to encourage people to linger together while enjoying nice weather and simple but pretty landscaping. Swinging benches beckon here and there, as do picnic tables and playground equipment. A path was recently paved leading from a nearby retirement home to the entertainment stage at the park. To the north of the stage, a large, raised gazebo faced by permanent benches makes an attractive spot for weddings.

Near the new horseshoe pitches, someone has begun to carve the likeness of an eagle into a six-foot tall stump.

Cross a ditch via the wooden, covered Delta Bridge (built in 2006) to leave the park, and you’ll come to the Mary Beth Dunnichay Aquatic Center. The pool’s namesake, of course, is the Olympic diver from Elwood. Mary Beth’s likeness graces the sign out front, as well as the doors to the swimming pool.

It’s a nice pool, with two water slides and a recessed patio area. But you have to wonder why there’s no diving board!

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I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry after looking at our front-page photo Thursday of a kindergarten scene at Killbuck School. In the photo, a line of boys is approaching a teacher, who is standing in front of a bulletin board. “Welcome to Mrs. McPhearson’s Class” is spelled out on the board, but a clipboard the teacher is holding covers the “Cl” in class.

Many readers thought this was very funny, and I finally decided to laugh rather than cry.

I called Mrs. Clevenger on Friday to apologize, and she was very gracious. I was further dismayed, however, to learn that -- in point of fact -- she does not even own a donkey!

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A recent THB note in our weekly You Said It! feature roused the ire of some folks. Our comment, “Sound familiar?” followed a reader’s Facebook diatribe about Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.

Some readers interpreted our remark as an agreement that “liberals and unions” had caused the downfall of the auto industry in Detroit and Anderson.

While the placement of our remark certainly contributed to that interpretation, our intent was to point out that both Detroit and Anderson have traveled a treacherous road through an economic minefield.