Part 2 - My Fourth of July Vacation: A
ride through the Midwest during that patriotic
time of year. (Jerome A. Holst © 2005)
In Part 1 of my "Fourth of July Vacation" story,
I had traveled to the town of Metropolis,
Illinois to see the Hometown of Superman, a.k.a.
"The Man of Steel" from the DC comic book tales.
My next stop were the cornfields of Illinois.
However, after miles and miles of cornfields, I
decided not to travel to Riverside, Iowa, the
future home of Captain James T. Kirk from the
Star Trek series and instead headed south to
Interstate Route 50 and Vincennes, Indiana, the
birthplace of comedian Red Skelton.
Red Skelton Bridge on Highway 50
As I neared the town of Vincennes, Indiana I
crossed over a bridge dedicated to the late
comedian. Called the "Red Skelton Bridge" it
traversed the watery Wabash River which ran
through the town of Vincennes and divided the
states of Illinois and Indiana.
The Fourth of July is, of course, an appropriate
time to visit Red's hometown because Red was
famous for his patriotic recitation of
Pledge of Allegiance" in which
he explained the meaning of each word.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag
Of the United States of America,
And to the Republic for which it stands:
Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.
Other Red Skelton landmarks in the area are the
"Freddie the Freeloader” bench at the
Vincennes-Sun Commercial that was dedicated on
July 18, 1981 by Vincennes Mayor William Rose;
Red's Eisenhower military jacket from World War
II that rests on permanent display at the
Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, and the
Museum and Performing Arts Center
created to honor Red's memory.
Richard "Red" Skelton was born in
Vincennes at 111 Lyndale Avenue on July 18,
1913. At age 10, Red joined up with a traveling
medicine show and eventually climbed up the
ladder of the entertainment industry by
performing in minstrel and tent shows, circuses,
burlesques, Mississippi show boats, vaudeville,
radio, motion pictures and television. Red is
best remembered for his twenty year run on the
CBS program THE RED SKELTON SHOW from 1951-1971.
He received a Life Achievement Award from the
Screen Actors Guild in 1988.
Red Skelton died of pneumonia on September 17,
1997 at 7:48 AM at his home in Rancho Mirage,
California and was buried at Forest Lawn
Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Taking a Taco Bell break, I pulled off the
Highway 50, ordered my meal of a Chalupa (can
you say "Chalupa?") and a diet cola drink at the
drive-thru window. As I sat in my car chewing on
my Chalupa, I spied an amusing billboard that
proclaimed "It's Hip to Snip." The ad advocated
spaying of dogs, and the dog in the billboard
was just a little too happy about the whole
thing, if you ask me.
My stomach filled with food, I took a quick nap,
making sure to roll the windows down. The
weather had been in the 90 degree range the
whole trip and I didn't want to wake up and find
that I had baked myself like a burrito in the
I awoke from my nap feeling refreshed and head
to downtown Vincennes to see the monument to
George Rogers Clark. Constructed in 1932, the
massive granite structure pays homage to the
Conquest of the West.
The monument is part of the National Park that
sits smack in the middle of downtown. A museum
is dedicated to the history of the region and
displays photographs of the military fort built
by the British and captured by George Rogers
Clark and his band of freedom fighters in the
Inside the museum, you can see artifacts like
muskets, bayonets, cannonballs and mannequins
depicting revolutionary soldiers and the local
red-skins (Oops, I mean Native Americans).
However, the Indian, I saw did have his face
painted with bright red markings.
Back in Metropolis, Illinois, another monument
to the heroism of George Rogers Clark at the
Fort Massac State Park relived the tales of
Colonel George Rogers Clark who led his "Long
Knives" regiment in 1778 in to Illinois at
Massac Creek and captured Kaskasia, 100 miles to
the north, allegedly without firing a shot. He
and his men went on to take the entire Illinois
Taking a few moments to wander through the
Vincennes park, I walked under the large bridge
that crossed the Wabash. Under the bridge,
hundreds of mud swallows constructed their nests
and hurriedly retreated from the area when I
approached. Hey, couldn't they tell I didn't
have wings. There's no way, I'd catch any of
them. My main concern at the moment was doing
any possible dropping hat might generously fall
from the sky in the frenzy. Luckily, I was
Along the riverbank, I came upon a plaque. It
stated that, here, sometime in the past, a young
Abraham Lincoln crossed over this river and made
his way into Illinois. I stopped to contemplate
the event in my mind's eye. For a moment I stood
humbled in the light of such a simple and yet
profound historical event. I thought of how he
grew to manhood, managed the strife between the
North and the South during Civil War and
eventually gave his life for his country at the
hands of an assassin.
It was time to move on. I bid good bye and God
bless (as Red Skelton was fond if saying) to
Boat with local fishers floats beneath the
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