Special events introduce people to Crawfordsville.

I've been thinking about all the ways people learn about Crawfordsville and the good things Montgomery County has to offer.

One person telling another, the famous word-of-mouth advertising, is certainly one way. Paid advertising is another. So is news, like coverage of special events such as the recent swim meet at Crawfordsville High School and the upcoming GNCC motocross competition. Outings like those give us the chance to shine our shoes, put on our smiles and really say, "Hey, you're going to like us!"

I met Mark Flexter this week. He is an author who has written a novel set in Montgomery County during the late 1800s. In the midst of learning about his book and getting to know him, I came to realize we had something very important in common. We both came here for relatively short stays and fell in love with the place.

In Mark's case, he was drawn by Wabash College. He came as a freshman student and decided to make this place his home.

I first heard of Crawfordsville when Don Sharp became the minister of First Christian Church in Lincoln, Ill. According to a newsletter account, he moved to Lincoln from a city called "Crawfordsville."

I got to know Don while we were both at Lincoln. He not only preached each Sunday (I still remember his melodious voice, tinged with a nasal twang and a hint of southern accent) but he came to our dormitory and hung out with the guys, occasionally playing cards once a week or so.

His son, Steve, lived in our dorm and I got to know who he was and decided this Crawfordsville seemed like a nice place. I made a mental note to "stop by" some time.

Eventually, I began driving to Alamo to preach at the church on Sundays. It wasn't Crawfordsville, but it was nearby.

After college, I was offered a job with a radio station outside New York City. I turned it down when Bob and Sally Remley let me move into the apartment above their store. I was involved with their church as well as the Alamo church and then became involved in the local radio station. Then I met a girl and boom, decades later, Montgomery County is more a part of me than any other place I've lived.

When groups like GNCC and Ironman choose to have events here, it gives many other people the chance to say, "I've been to Montgomery County. I think I'll go there again."

From a financial standpoint, it gives people of great influence the opportunity to say, "We need to think about doing business in Montgomery County" or even, "We ought to move a plant there."

I watched "Hoosiers" again on a recent weekend. I believe that movie captures the romance of basketball in Indiana but more importantly, I think it rings true with what I know of Montgomery County and how the county might have been in the 1950s. At one point, Barbara Hershey's character speaks about Wabash College in a very positive way.

For more than 20 years that movie has reminded people, "We really need to go to Crawfordsville."

Jim McMillen wrote a book, "The Yardman," that is set in Crawfordsville for some of its scenes.

I love to visit Hannibal, Mo., because a more well-known author, Mark Twain, used its people and that location in his books.

What about our museums? The people who run the Lane Place and the Rotary Jail Museum tell me people from all over the United States as well as other countries make it a point "to stop by Crawfordsville" when they are in the area.

Famous people have been drawn here.

Charles Osgood of CBS spent a few days in Crawfordsville when doing a story about Wabash College. The Monon Bell game has repeatedly drawn national attention on TV. A famous actress visited Crawfordsville when she was dating a man with ties to Montgomery County.

An old friend, Leslie Weir, liked to travel and see new sites. He once told me everywhere he went he could count on running into someone who had lived in Montgomery County or who asked him about Crawfordsville.

We just need to keep putting our best foot forward. Don't forget about all those smiles we have sent shining around the world. Let's keep it up and good things will keep coming our way.



Frank Phillips has been reporting and writing about Hoosiers since 1972. He can be contacted at frank@thepaper24-7.com.