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The Benjamin Harrison 2012 Halloween Birthday Special

Benjamin Harrison!

Hi, I’m President Benjamin Harrison! You may remember me from such films as…wait, no, you wouldn’t.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: longtime readers and friends know my wife Anne is a history buff who brakes for Presidential grave sites, a common must-see on our annual road trips. In past entries we’ve so far shared our experiences with twelve dead Presidents of the United States of America as follows:

In the middle of that timeline is one we never got around to sharing: that time we visited the one and only Presidential burial site in our own home state of Indiana.

Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2012, we willfully stayed in town for a change and spent a Saturday at a pair of nearby attractions with connections to the Halloween season. It’s not her favorite holiday, but October is her birth month and she had her motives. The cuter of the two attractions was the annual “ZooBoo” program at the Indianapolis Zoo. We’ve been there many times in the summer and once or twice around Christmas, but we had never looked into their Halloween festivities. I finally got around to sharing pics from that afternoon last October.

The first half of that fun-filled day was spent driving around the most famous final resting place in all of Indianapolis, Crown Hill Cemetery. A renowned institution since 1864, Crown Hill houses several of the Circle City’s bigger names in history and/or local government, as well as the highest elevation point in central Indy. (I understand there may be a higher hill over on the northwest side, but it’s outside the original city limits and the view is uninspiring.)

entrance gate!

One of the ornate entrance gates.

Gothic Chapel!

The Gothic Chapel dates back to 1875 and can be rented for weddings. Note the holiday decor out front.

Crown Hill!

Atop that highest point, “the Crown”, is the gravesite of local author James Whitcomb Riley. His most famous work may be the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” [sic], which would inspire the later creation of a more familiar character in pop culture.

Riley reader!

A small reader sits at its base. One of our city’s best children’s hospitals is named after Riley.

Crown Hill!

The view down from the Crown, 842 feet above sea level.

downtown Indianapolis!

COMPUTER, ENHANCE IMAGE. There’s downtown Indy, 2.8 miles to the south.

Embalmed and Sainted Dead!

In a few spots are signs quoting from Theodore O’Hara’s poem “Bivouac of the Dead”.

Indiana AIDS Memorial.

Themed markers include Crown Hill’s official Indiana AIDS Memorial, dedicated in 2000 and surrounded by tablets inscribed with the names of Hoosiers who died during the AIDS epidemic.

bird of prey!

Random bird of prey for value-added creepy factor.

Our primary objective this day was the gravesite of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd American President. He’s best known as the one whose term fell in between Grover Cleveland’s two nonconsecutive terms. Notable accomplishments on his watch include the Sherman Antitrust Act, six new states admitted to the Union, and unsuccessful attempts to enforce black voting rights. His similarly named great-grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; his grandfather was the aforementioned William Henry Harrison. To date he’s the President with the most Hoosier credentials, coming in slightly ahead of Abraham Lincoln, who lived here for part of his childhood.

Benjamin Harrison!

This way to 23.

Benjamin Harrison family!

The official Benjamin Harrison gravesite. At right is his first wife Caroline. His second wife Mary is buried nearby as well, but somehow we missed her.

Harrison memorial!

Closeup of that memorial with partial resumé.

Harrison was the main reason we’d come, but he’s by no means the only public personality viewable on the Crown Hill grounds.

Prime example: notorious criminal John Dillinger. Under no circumstances would I call us fans, but there he was. Not every photo or experience we post here on MCC is an endorsement or statement of adoration.

John Dillinger!

You might remember him from such films as Public Enemies, in which he was played by former star Johnny Depp.

John Dillinger Jr!

We did not touch the token gift to confirm whether or not it was real.

You may or may not recognize the names on the other graves we saw along our long walks. Even as a lifelong resident, some of these were strangers to me at the time. But they might mean more to other Hoosiers out there.

Richard Gatling!

Richard Gatling, the inventor of the original Gatling gun, whose presence bumped Predator up an entire letter grade.

Colonel Eli Lilly!

Colonel Eli Lilly, a Union officer in the Civil War who later founded one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country. If you’ve ever taken Prozac, Cialis, or Cymbalta, his life has touched yours by extension.

Abel Streight!

Colonel Abel Streight, another Civil War officer and P.O.W. (as was Lilly), who led over 100 solders to a daring escape.

Lucy Ann Seaton!

Not exactly famous, Lucy Ann Seaton’s was Crown Hill’s first burial on June 2, 1864.

Thomas A Hendricks!

Vice President Thomas A Hendricks, an Indiana Governor who served under Grover Cleveland but died in his sleep eight months into his VP term.

Charles Fairbanks!

Vice President Charles Fairbanks, who served under Theodore Roosevelt who had a law practice in Indianapolis both before and after his term, and who has a city in Alaska named after him, a tribute to his involvement in their state border negotiations.

Thomas R Marshall!

Vice President Thomas R. Marshall, an Indiana governor who served under Woodrow Wilson. When Wilson suffered strokes in office, Marshall respectfully declined the potentially historic opportunity to become Acting President of the United States and stuck to his assigned duties, such as they were.

Oliver Perry Morton!

Oliver Perry Morton, Indiana governor throughout the Civil War. one of Lincoln’s “war governors”, and a Loose Cannon Who Didn’t Always Play by the Rules.

Robert Irsay!

Neither a governor nor a VP: Robert Irsay took ownership of the Baltimore Colts in 1972, surreptitiously moved them to Indy in 1984, and bequeathed them to his son Jim upon his passing in 1997.

…and that’s the rest of the story about how Anne wanted to spend her 42nd birthday.

That brings us up to thirteen Presidential gravesites visited as of December 31, 2017. This gallery has been on my MCC topic backlist for years, but needed to be added at long last as one of several precursors to our 2018 road trip, whose travelogue should commence within the next week, Lord willing.

(We have enough Crown Hill photos from that day to follow this up with a Part Two, but I may save those for more appropriately thematic use in October, unless there’s a groundswell of demand to see them sooner. What do YOU, the Viewers at Home, think?)

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