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How fur to Indy? You walkin' or drivin'?

Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009, at 10:34 AM

Travel was difficult for folks when I was in my salad days or in my juvenescence, a stripling, a whippersnapper.

Greene County is one of the largest counties in the state and one of the least populated because so much of it is prairie land with large farms. Most people where I lived had old cars that were not dependable enough to take a long trip. People did not have a need to drive far. All of their folks lived nearby and the goods and services most people needed were available in town or in the next town.

Consequently, folks down where I grew up seldom used miles to describe how far it was from one place to another. They also rarely used time to describe distance. They had a group of estimations and sayins' to describe distance.

Most people I knew hardly ever drove outside of the county and if they did the destination was one of the contiguous counties to Greene. Some would drive to Vigo County or Terre Haute on occasion to go shopping and perhaps once a year some town folks would drive to Indianapolis for Christmas shopping or graduation. It was mostly women who did this and they usually went in groups.

If someone were to drive to Indianapolis or Evansville, it was like going to a foreign country. A passport was required at the county line. Most of the roads were two-lane with no truck lanes and the roads around the county were mostly gravel.

So if you were to ask Audley, "How far is it to Newark?" he would say, "It's just a little ways up the blacktop to the east." Elmo might express a short distance as being. "Just up there a piece." Now if he were to tell you it was quite far away he would say that, "It is a 'fur' piece."

Elzy might say that, "It is up there a ways or over there a ways" and that could be interpreted as not being out of the county or very far away. Or he might say, "It is just over yonder not too fur." And then again he might say, "It's just down the road a little while."

Amsey might say that, "It ain't very fur" or if it was farther than he first thought he might reiterate that, "It's a right 'fur' piece" or "it's quite a ways." If you were a local Elmo would say, "It just down the road a ways. You know where that old barn with the silo used to set there by the road? It just past that."

If it is really a long ways they might say, "You had to start last week to get there today." Elmo might say, "It is about six axle greasin's."

It happened in the Calvertville general store owned and operated by Ralph Martindale and his family. A fellow from out of town stopped at the store and he was obviously lost. Elzy looked at him and said, "You ain't from around these parts are ye?"

"No I'm not," he said as he reached into the cold water of the coke box, pulled out a six-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, popped the cap in the opener and took a long drink. He turned to Ralph and asked, "What is the quickest way to get to Indianapolis from here?" Ralph responded, "Are you walking or driving?" The Flat Land Foreigner replied, "Driving." Ralph said, "That's the quickest way I know."

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I grew up in Greene County and moved away. I wanted to revist the viaduct. I went to the store in Solsberry to ask directions. I was told the directions with quite a bit of "hang a left" and "just over the hill", as I left the storekeeper said..."If you get lost, don't come back". I found that quite amusing as he probably figured, his directions were great and if I got lost, so be it.

-- Posted by Kristal on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 7:43 AM

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