Our family never went on a vacation when I was growing up . . . too many kids and not enough money, and my Dad never had any "hankerin" to travel. Dad was just happy to be back home after serving his country in WW II. Everything he needed or wanted was right here in Montgomery County. However, he wasn't the "stay-at-home" type, as he drove our old pickup to Darlington almost every day . . . sometimes two or three times a day . . . to visit the drug store, restaurant, Cox Standard station, the American Legion hall, the pool room, hardware store, elevator, or any other place where he could visit his buddies. My brother and I accompanied him on most of these trips to town.
About once a month all of us would load up in the family car and head to Crawfordsville on old State Road 47. Dad always drove slowly, and the trip, winding through all of the twists and turns, would take over half an hour. My Mom grew up in Crawfordsville, and we would visit my grandparents who lived at the top of the hill on Danville Avenue, or my aunt and uncle who lived near the Lew Wallace Study. While there, I always tried to beg my cousin, Ronnie Baker, to give me some of his good baseball cards . . . and one day he did . . . THREE shoeboxes full!
I have several other memories of Crawfordsville as a child which still float around in my mind. When Mom visited West's grocery on West Main street, Dad would head over to the tiny Silver Shanty to have a cup of coffee, and he would give my brother and me some change to buy candy at Murphy's dime store, which was a short distance away. At another store (I think Delekamps), there was an X-ray machine in the shoe department in which you could place your feet when trying on a new pair of shoes...to see how they fit . . . and you could see the bones in your feet. I believe this was the same store that also had an electric conveyor system that ran all through the store. It carried notes and money and was fascinating to watch. At the Sportsman Shop, I loved to look at all of the sporting goods. One summer, I had saved $4 and bought my first golf club. I always wanted one of their nice autographed baseball mitts, but never had enough money.
On several occasions, Dad bought or sold livestock at the sale barn on north Washington Street. I watched in amazement as the auctioneer rattled off the bids higher and higher. And each year our folks would take us to see the fireworks at Milligan Park, where we also had family reunion cookouts on occasion. A few times they took us to see the Christmas parade on Main Street. A couple of times, our folks would drop us off at the skating rink at the south edge of town. That was fun!
Of course, the basketball County Tourney and Sectional Tourney were always fun-filled and exciting events . . . if you were lucky enough to obtain a ticket. When Darlington won its first County Tourney in 1954, we thought the Indians were world champions! When Darlington, or any of the small county schools, had to play against Crawfordsville, it was David versus Goliath. It didn't happen very often, but it was certainly thrilling when any little school beat CHS.
I did manage to make it to a Wabash basketball game one time . . . and what a game it was. Charlie Bowerman, from Alamo High School, played for Wabash. On that night, if I remember correctly, Wabash beat Butler 110-108 in five overtimes, and Charlie scored over 50 points.
Sometimes Dad played golf at the Municipal course. When I was about 7 years old, he took me with him. While he was inside paying the green fees, I took out one of his irons and chopped several holes in the practice putting green. After that episode, youngsters were banned from the golf course for several years . . . thanks to me! I finally got to play there when I was 13 years old, and I felt like I was the next Arnold Palmer!
I watched several movies at the Sunshine Theater in Darlington, but these were usually "B-rated" movies. If a first-rate movie was released, on rare occasions Dad would take us to the Strand Theater. I just could not believe how many seats they had!
Later on, after I had obtained my driver's license, I drove down US 136 East to the Country Diner, circled it, and then to the Dog 'N Suds, circled it . . . and on and on. At that time, gas was about 25 cents a gallon. After a couple of hours of non-stop driving, we would park at one of the places and order a sandwich and a Coke. When it was nearly dark, we often headed over to the Ben-Hur drive-in movie theater . . . and no, we did not hide anyone in the trunk so they could get in free!
To us farm kids, Crawfordsville was "the big city," and a trip there was always fun. Maybe these "city slickers," as Dad would jokingly say, were OK after all!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.