Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Yesterday was a sad day.  First there was a crashing defeat for U.S. Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary.  He was defeated by a 20 percent margin by a Tea Party backed state treasurer.

When I first got to know Richard Lugar in 1969 he was the mayor of Indianapolis and he started it on a growth pattern that has made it a cosmopolitan Midwestern city.  Before Lugar's reign it used be called Indian-No-Place and the cornfield with lights.  Earlier this year it hosted a stellar celebration of the Super Bowl.

I covered Lugar for three years before leaving Indy.  I was super impressed by Lugar's intelligence and the genius that was Uni-Gov, extending the city limits to take in all of Marion County.  I can still see Lugar's wry smile and the twinkle in his eye when he was pleased by something a reporter had asked him.

Lugar went on to the U.S. Senate and has spent 36 years there.  He's white haired, 80 years old and heavier than he was in those golden days gone by.  But listening to him speak it was obvious that his health and his intelligence was just fine.  I think he could easily have done another six year term.  But the voters thought otherwise.  It was a rude way to treat a man who has done so much for Indiana, the nation and the world.

Closer to home, fire broke out in a barbecue restaurant that shared a building on Prescott's legendary Whiskey Row with a food store and with a long-time and well-loved saloon, the Bird Cage.  Firemen fought a great battle keeping the flames from spreading to the rest of the Row but when it was over the Bird Cage and the other two businesses were totally gutted.  Even at noon today, hundreds of people were standing across the street staring at the rubble.  Many seemed stunned.

Weekends used to see dozens of motorcycles coming and going and parked in front of the Bird Cage.  Many folks who didn't spend time there thought it was a biker bar.  And it was.  But there were also hippies and city leaders and businessmen.  And a lot of people who just loved good music.  A lot of bands have played at the Cage and a lot of people have danced on its miniscule dance floor.

But no more.

At least for now.

There's no good word yet on whether the building will be rebuilt though many people who have heard about the great fire of 1900, in which the entire Whiskey Row was burned to the ground and later rebuilt, are saying the Cage has to be rebuilt. 

We'll see.