FOR THE COMMON GOOD: ORAL HISTORIES FROM LONGTIME LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
FOR THE COMMON GOOD: ORAL HISTORIES FROM LONGTIME LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS MEMBERS IN INDIANA
Note that the Evansville interview has multiple participants (Gloria Speer, Patty Dewey, Polly Bigham and Roberta Heiman).
Enjoy this booklet of League reminiscences and appreciate the work of the League – past and present. You may also purchase a copy of the booklet for $5 by contacting the State Board. This price includes the cost of postage.
Roberta: Our League in Evansville restarted when some community issue came up that no one was paying any attention to. I wrote an editorial piece and in it I said that Evansville needs a League of Women Voters to take this up. We had not had a League for about a decade. Several women encouraged me to start one. I had no intention to do so at that time but after I retired I got more calls and eventually said “Ok, let’s do that.” Some of us got together at lunch and decided we could make this work. Marcy Au, head of the library system, Tammy Barnett and Martha Julian came. We announced a public meeting and 15 or 20 people came. This was five years ago. Now we have 59 members.
Patty: I believe I joined in 1970. Then it was called the Evansville League; we switched to Southwest Indiana, maybe in the mid 90s. I lived in Warrick County. There were several women interested in becoming members. We had five out-of-county women from Warrick County coming into Vanderburgh County. In three or four years we gathered more members, and I think we had two or three units in Evansville. We tried one in Warrick but after a year it just didn’t work. Warrick kept coming into Vanderburgh. I’m still a Warrick County resident. I worked on gathering signatures from Vanderburgh residents to try for the new consolidated government. My background had been in government service; I worked for Senator Birch Bayh for several years prior to my marriage in 1968. I was always interested in government so I took the Government and Voting Rights Committee and really enjoyed that. I did that most of the time I was active in the League. We had several really strong leaders, for which I was glad. Gloria Speer was one of them, Polly Bigham was another. Barbara McKenna was a very strong member, a strong organizer, and also strong socially. It was a great time to be a member. Since we had young children we had a baby-sitter for the board meetings. At least one unit meeting had baby-sitters. We had mainly morning meeting, as most of us did not work at that time. I think the downfall of the League came when women began to take jobs. In the summer I remember work meetings at Sylvia Weinzapfel’s farm out on the west side, with all the children, peanut butter sandwiches, and pitch-in lunches. It was just a good, fun, interesting group to spend time with. I surely, surely enjoyed my time with the League. When my children left high school I took a job teaching and didn’t have the time to spend on the League. I’m so glad that we’ve started up again.
Gloria: Our League whittled down to just a few of us, about four, doing all the work. That must have been in the mid-90s. We started the “Meet Your Legislators” in the mid-70s. Pam, you can tell us how we’re doing these meetings now.
Pam: We hold the meetings at the Library; Marcy Au, the director, is one of our members. The library puts the information on their web site and records the meetings. We have public TV in Evansville.
There were some things that popped into my mind when I was reading over some of the information that Roberta had gleaned from the archives. I remember Sadelle Berger, so concerned with juvenile justice; she spent hours and hours working on that. Through her and the League the whole Juvenile Justice System was turned upside down. We got a judge, a juvenile judge rather than a magistrate. Before her work, a magistrate heard the juvenile cases and the hearings were open to the public.
Another thing we worked on was the Equal Rights Amendment. I remember little postcard-size index cards. We wrote out the three sections of the ERA and handed them out, saying “This is it. This is all it says.” The ERA was so simple.
Gloria: I joined the League in 1970. I had this very dear friend, Maggie Zoff, who had been a long-time League member, and she knew I was interested in government. She brought me to the League and told me all the stories. She must have been in her 50s or 60s so she had been in the League for a long time. One story she told was about their poll watching. There were some precincts where money was passed out. Women would hang sheets on the line and people would go behind the sheets to get their payment. Maggie got me into the League. I started with Voter Service and soon became chair of the committee. In 1975 we had a scandal about the nursing homes and manipulation of the absentee ballots filled out there. Paul Walt was the Democrat on the election board. I cannot think of the name of our County Clerk, but she was one of the finest public servants I can remember. She and Paul asked us if we would take the absentee ballots into the nursing homes. We would get League members who would say they were Democrat and Republican; we had to have one of each. We’d go to the Clerk’s office. She would give us the ballots and train us. It was hard work; we had to carry the voting machines from bed to bed and read the ballot to each person. I’ll never forget one woman who was blind. She was not old, somewhere in her 40s. We read the ballot to her. She cried. She said this was the first time anyone had ever read the ballot to her. She had been voting all those years. We also went into the high-rise buildings, to the senior citizens living there. Gradually we had to drop thing, as more and more members went to work. Toward the end I had to take off a couple of days to do this work. Soon we just had to stop; we couldn’t do it any longer. I have rejoined because I love the League and really couldn’t stay out. I’m trying not to get too involved because I’ve got lots of other things.
Earlier we mentioned the social aspects of League. I came from the Midwest and at this time I was a stay-at-home mother. We would go to Barbara McKenna’s house and work all morning and then she would bring out the sherry. We would have a glass before lunch. Sherry before lunch was totally out of my experience. I would bring my little girl to the work sessions. She loved the nursery there. Voter Service and absentee voting were the biggest things I did. Now the only thing I’m doing is overseeing the coffee for the “Meet Your Legislators.” That’s all we do now. We used to moderate and do everything.
Pam: These meetings are sponsored by several groups in town in addition to the League, but we are one of the only ones to show up. A library representative comes and the teachers union helps by sending out reminders to people. I’ve been asked to be the guest moderator at the March “Meet Your Legislators” meeting because the regular moderator will be out of town. He has been involved with MYL for a long time. We had one MYL meeting on Saturday and between 160-175 people attended.
Polly: Like Gloria, I had a good friend, Carol Costa. She came here because her husband was on the faculty at the University of Southern Indiana and my husband was also. We became good friends. She became president and I joined because of her. The first thing I did was fund raising. It wasn’t hard; we had a very small budget, two or three thousand a year. A number of the lawyers in town were long-time supporters. I think they appreciated what we had done in juvenile justice. It was mostly a matter of sending out letters as a reminder. Except for Meade Johnson. Roland Eccles, Vice-President of Public Relations for Meade Johnson, was in charge of their foundation money. He insisted on being visited every year. But that was fun.
We then thought of the project of doing a cookbook. We sent a letter to all members of Congress asking that they send their recipes. The book was called “Political Hash.” We did this in 1975-76 and had a good response. I don’t remember how many books we had but we sold out. Phyllis Howard and I did that book together.
My great love in the League was doing Voter Service. My passion was registering new voters. I would go anywhere, any time, with my card table. That helped with our outreach to different groups. Our membership was very white, very female, although we had several long-time male members. When I was president, Ed Howard was on the board and headed our local housing study. Another great experience was my appointment to a Citizens Advisory Committee on Community Development Fund Spending. The League was asked to have a member on that. I spent two years with that group. We always had more requests than money, and we spent hours making our recommendations. Then the mayor would rearrange the whole thing. There were political groups that were definitely going to be supported by whichever party was in power. Another thing I enjoyed during the two years I was president was speaking to groups who requested a speaker. A newcomers group called and told me “Now don’t talk down to this group.” I prepared this great dissertation on the Reagan budget. A lot of bleary eyes looked at me that day but I didn’t talk down to them.
Gloria: I was on the first Public TV Board when Evansville organized Public TV. It was a community effort. I’m still so proud to have helped start Public TV. We needed it.
Patty: I remember being appointed to the Southern Indiana Health Systems Agency Board which oversaw spending for hospitals, nursing homes, that sort of thing. It was disbanded, I think in the early 90s. I was holding a consumer spot, not specifically a League spot, but I believe I was chosen because of my community involvement through the League. I also think that I was the only genuine consumer on that board. The hospital and nursing homes were on the board. They weren’t consumers. It was frustrating but interesting. I felt free to speak out and say what needed to be said. It would just be brushed aside. All the decisions came from the providers, not the consumers. I think that’s why the board just sank into itself; it didn’t function as needed.
Polly: Several times I had calls from local government people who were hiring. If the applicant listed the League as a qualification, they would call me. One was a member who became head of the Evansville Urban Transportation Study. Before that all her experience was volunteer, including with the League. Another woman who taught history at the University of Southern Indiana became part of metro-planning and then went on to Bloomington and worked in planning there. I cannot remember her name.
Gloria: I remember a member who came here from Pensacola, Florida. In Pensacola the League held a Roses and Brickbats Dinner yearly. They invited their local politicians and handed out recognitions for best and worst.
I brought my environmental T-shirt. It was part of a League effort to help the environment. We were trying to promote the improvement of cars. We also were trying to get a bike path down Walnut. We got nowhere.
Patty: You may have thought that the, but think of the bike paths and walking trails that we have in Evansville now, all the way to Newburgh. That impetus came from somewhere, and I like to think it was the League. It takes time. You don’t win the first time around. You have to come back and then come back again. Suddenly someone who is in government thinks of it too and then it happens. The fact that you put the idea in that person’s head may be forgotten. Except you know. And that’s all right.
Meals-on-Wheels Evansville was started by Peg Woodward after she had been president of our League.
Polly: My last job before retiring I worked for the American Cancer Society. Before that I worked for many years as a local reporter for one of our local newspapers. During those years, I got out of volunteer things; I didn’t think volunteer work mixed well with covering local stories. When I switched to the Cancer Society they were starting to do advocacy to make people aware of cancer. I was a new staff person. I felt like a kid in a candy store being allowed to do lobbying. We have a network of local cancer offices. A lot of our lobbying was with legislators. Many of the other staff felt intimidated about talking to a state legislator but they were all friends to me because of the League coffees each year. I encouraged other staff people to see lobbying as a very natural thing to do. It was great to get back into lobbying, something that I had loved as a volunteer with the League. And now I could do it as a professional.
Gloria: For many years part of my Voter Service was that we had congressional debates on public TV. That was so much fun. Sometimes I moderated, and one time I was on the panel. I was sitting next to David James, who was a young reporter, and we were asking questions with follow-up. Afterward he asked me, “How do you do that without notes?” At that time, I really did know the issues.
Polly: The League did a great service during our recent school board election. There were 13 or 14 candidates. It’s really hard to become informed about so many people. Our League had a series of candidates meetings that gave voters a chance to see and hear the people who were running. You can pretty quickly make your pick once you see and hear the candidates.
Gloria: I’m remembering the ERA and how excited we were when it passed the Indiana Legislature. It was a very close vote. And then to lose it on the national level, that was so sad.
Pam: The League had a speakers bureau to talk about consolidating local government in the 80s. The whole issue has come back now, and we’ve been very involved with it again.
Polly: We studied this twice. I remember going into the Trustees Office to observe interviews with people who were coming in for aid. I think we were requested to be there because of a suit brought against Center Township in Indianapolis. There were two townships here that were questionable so we were asked to be observers in those two township offices. They were Pigeon and Perry and that was 1975.
Gloria: The second study was in the 80s, but the committee reported that outside of the committee there wasn’t enough support. So we didn’t go on with it.
Patty: A week or two ago I went to the Vanderburgh County Commissioners meeting. Gloria and I sat together and remembered 40 years ago when we were doing basically the same thing. Now it’s back again. Maybe this will be the time it actually happens.
Polly: We haven’t talked about Coonie Baldwin, who must be in her 90s now. I remember her talking about the suffragettes who were working for the right to vote in Evansville. She talked about yellow parasols that they carried, and they would poke people with them. The League of Women Voters came from the suffrage movement.
Gloria: Coonie knew more about foreign policy than anyone else I know of. She never worked outside the home but she studied all the issues and gave us updates once or twice a year. She never made up her mind until she had read something on both the left and the right. She was from English, IN and is still alive and living in a nursing home.
It was a League member, Jo David, who did a study that led to the Court Appointed Special Advocate [CASA] program being started here.
Pam: We have several members now who are in local government, a judge and a city councilman. We function with a core of active people.
MARGE FABER – BLOOMINGTON-MONROE LWV
I was attracted to the League of Women Voters from the time I was in college. As a Political Science major, I heard about it from my major professor. When we moved to Wyoming I sought it out and joined in 1955/56. I “rapidly moved up through the ranks.” After my first unit meeting, at which I spoke up, I was asked to take on a minor job + unit leader or some such. At the next annual meeting I was elected to the board, a place I didn’t vacate for some 50 years except for a brief sabbatical when we first moved to Bloomington and the year my son died. I have served in every conceivable position except Voter Service and Treasurer.
The League I joined in Casper was a brand new League, so the first thing we did was “Here’s Your Local Government” as demanded by National. Getting information from those suspicious Westerners, who looked askance at women asking nosy questions, was a treat. I pulled the “This is public information” line a lot. The second thing we did was an overview of the county + I forget what that’s called. It actually wasn’t too hard + Natrona County had only one incorporated town with a couple of outliers. When the Job Corps was established at a nearby abandoned Army/Air Force base, I headed the committee that studied the Job Corps and the new base. My favorite story was told by the head of the Corps in Casper, who told me when the camp opened they were sent surplus Navy uniforms + bell-bottoms and all. The bell bottoms caught tumble weed whenever they were worn + to the consternation of the (mostly Eastern and Midwestern) kids who wore them. The bell bottoms were replaced with khakis after a while.
Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened had nothing to do with the League, but made us all a bit skittish about studies beyond Casper proper + the Pumpkin Buttes War. It was an honest-to-God gun slinging fest between the ranchers and the uranium prospectors, a real Wild West kind of thing + quite an experience for a gal from Wyckoff, New Jersey!
The League was instrumental in setting up a city manager form of government for the town. We set a date in April 1959 + the 19th if I remember correctly + to go around our neighborhoods collecting signatures on a petition to have a city manager form of government instituted + for an election, I think. The day of the petition drive fell after a two-foot snow fall, but the Chinooks were melting the snow fast. We went out + I was pushing a baby carriage + and collected signatures in light-weight clothes and boots to wade through the snow melt. We succeeded in our drive and got a city manager form of government that replaced mayor and council. It still exists in Casper.
When we moved to Bloomington I joined the League immediately, and served on a tax study committee that first year. I remember meeting at Nancy Boerner’s house. The Bloomington League of Women Voters was a world away from the Casper League. It was an old established League with lots of elder stateswomen. Casper had one + Edness Kimball Wilkins, who served in the state legislature and whose ancestors came in wagons with the Mormons. The other thing I noticed about LWVB-MC is that we talk a lot before we take action The Casper League was more action-oriented and far more efficient in many things as a result. It took quite a bit of time to get used to the time we spend talking (cussing and discussing?).
I served as President of the Bloomington League before computers and email, so everything had to be done before going to work as a school social worker or after work, which was sometimes as late as 9 or 10 p.m. Jim would leave for Indy at 6:15 to 6:30 a.m., and I would work on League business until time to go to whatever school I was slated for that day. I got an electric typewrite just for that job. (I have since sold it in a garage sale.) Balancing the two jobs + being president was a full-time job, and I already had one of those + was difficult. Fortunately Jim agreed to take over the finances while I was President. Otherwise we never would have paid bills on time. In the middle of the year my mother moved to Bloomington full time, not happily. She broke her ankle sliding down a slippery slope, and then rebroke it trying to get out of bed while in the hospital after having it set. As a result of all the stress + the job, the League and my mother + I contracted “Walking pneumonia” and was sidelined for six weeks. That was the year the city and county got into a big brouhaha over the parks and recreation district, and the School Board election went to the (in my mind) archconservatives because the county was so incensed over what it perceived as the city trying to take over. As a result the school system suffered + another stress. I was slated to become supervisor of the Social Service Department at MCCSC at the end of my term, but because of all the stress, I opted out + much to the surprise of many. But I’m not sorry.
I’ve continued my activity in the League, although now it’s primarily attending meetings. I don’t have the time or energy to take on another position of responsibility.
JANET KRAMER – BROWN COUNTY LWV
Back in those days lots of things were going on. The same things that are going on now: water quality; taxes; land use; financing local government. Those things just never change………The League’s changed a lot. One of the first things we did when I joined was have a fashion show, which seems absurd now. In the beginning there were 58 members. They broke up into little study groups, meeting at different houses, there was so much going on, national studies, state studies, and our local stuff. Now we just can’t do that. We have to pick and choose. We usually try to work a national program with our local one or with the state study. We don’t have enough people. Most of our people are retirees.
PH: What parts did you play over the years?
JK: One of the roles I was most interested in was Voter Service, candidates meetings and things like that. I was involved in Hoosier National Forest, forming the Deam Wilderness. That was an interesting project. We did a lot of work with Bloomington during that study. One of the others I chaired was International Trade. We went around to the various manufacturers in Brown County and believe me there were very few. We wanted to determine how they participated in international trade, and by golly we had two of them who actually did participate in international trade.
PH: How did they feel about the trade study and where we were headed with international relations?
JK: They were pretty happy about it. One did a lot with Mexico and the other manufactured small airplane parts. They were both interested; this was a big part of their business.
This was the 1979. After that I went through all the offices – secretary, treasurer, and now president. I was president once before too. I hope to be relieved of that job at the end of this year. I’ve participated in almost everything we’ve done over the years.
We have about 22 members now. I remember when the League wanted to change the name to include men in the name, but I don’t actually remember the issue of inviting men to be members. We’ve always had men in our League, since I’ve been here. Some of our members are simply names, that I, they don’t participate. It’s really hard when you have to rely on the same people over and over.
PH: You had a business too for a while. You were active in the League while you were running the business?
JK: Yeah, I was. That was the one thing I kept active in, the League. I had the business for 17 years and participated as I could. I had a garden shop, small garden tools, garden ornaments, and things like that. It was fun. I started with nothing and built it on my own. I never borrowed money. It was just one of those things that grew and was very successful. Everything I did was just by shirttail instinct. I never had any training in that area at all. I guess I treated people as I like to be treated.
One of the things I really regret was missing the ERA. I really didn’t participate in all the excitement. I’ve been looking through our minutes. Our league had gone up to Indianapolis to march in support of the ERA. The anti forces were there, and kind of took over. I was really sad that there were more of them than of us. They really kicked up quite a ruckus. I never got out and really marched, and I wished that I had done that. I wanted to march during the time of the Vietnam War but my husband was in the military. It wouldn’t have been prudent.
PH: What about these days. What is Brown County doing now?
JK: We’re still involved in the same things; water quality, now we’ve included the sewer problem. The polluting septic systems just keep getting worse. The League participates in the partnership which is in Brown County. It’s a great thing and includes everybody in Brown County, all the service organizations, churches, schools, government. A lot of things get done.
PH: What are you trying to do with septic systems and who do you have to make do it?
JK: It’s up to the Commissioners. We try to get the story out. Bean Blossom creek crosses through our county; into Bloomington. The Bean Blossom study was a big, big study. It all came down to septic problems. Lake Lemon was included in that study. Sewer districts have been started in Brown County, in Gnaw Bone, in Bean Blossom, Helmsburg. You will never have a sewer going to everybody but where there are concentrations of people I think it would work fine. I hope the builders will be aware of that. When we first moved here we didn’t have city water, we got it from the lake. Most people had a pond, wells don’t work here. The soil is porous; you have to dig so deep. Most concentrations of population now have water.
PH: How long have you been president?
JK: Oh dear, this is probably my 5th year. Isn’t that horrible? I’m going to call a halt. We have some new members. I think we can begin to move on. When I started in Ohio, energy was on the agenda and it still is. When I moved to Brown County the issue was health care. Now it is again. Why is it that things never get done? We’ve studied them…. I guess that the people who make the decisions, who can really make things go, aren’t doing it.
PH: We have a government that gets stuck.
JK: I think so. We have to just keep trying. Some things have been done locally, solid waste. Our school system was resolved. But things on the big scale are harder.
PH: You’ve been a person who hung in there for the long haul. I think if you hadn’t been here there probably wouldn’t be a League in Brown County now.
JK: I think you’re right.
CAROL LICKERMAN, MAL LIVING IN COLUMBUS, INDIANA
Carolyn did not want to do an interview but she did send me (Pat Harris) the information below in two emails. Sent: Sunday, August 23, 2009 9:24:17 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern Subject: Re: LWVIN – history Dear Pat: Sorry I am late replying to your request but I had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands and am just able to type again.
I have been a member of the LWV since 1950. When we were first married in Michigan City, my husband said, “I don’t care what organization you join as long as you join the LWV.” I don’t remember what were the topics of the time but I do remember being on committees with Anita Bowser.
We lived in Michigan City for ten years then moved to North Vernon. There was no League in North Vernon but I was in touch with Elizabeth Weinberg, who was the League president in Madison. After one year we moved to Columbus and there found many friends who had been League members in other communities. We started a provisional LWV. I was the first President and we were recognized with full standing in1963. Our Columbus portfolio included reorganization of the county schools, establishing a planning commission with all necessary ordinances, i.e., master plan, subdivision ordinance, zoning ordinance etc. and later were active in women’s rights. My board portfolio included establishment of the planning department, and I served on the Plan Commission. I had also served on the Human Rights Commission, and the Redevelopment Commission.
In 1975 I was asked to run for a seat on the City Council on the Democratic ticket. Once I won the election I was no longer eligible to serve on the LWV board by then existing rules. I was the second woman in the history of Columbus of serve on the Council, and one of the few in the IACT* and the National League of Cities at that time. I served on the Council for twelve years, until 1988. While serving as liaison to the Plan Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Insurance Committee, and the New City Hall Building Committee, I initiated and chaired the city Insurance Committee, and chaired the Art in City Hall Committee. Since then I have been on the Board of the Irwin Financial Corporation and active in other city and state committees.
The LWV of Columbus lost membership as members moved and women became active in the work force, and finally disbanded. In the meantime I have maintained my membership in the National League and now in the State League as an independent member.
I hope this is the information you were seeking. To my knowledge there are no longer any files on the LWV of Columbus available. If I can be of any further assistance to you please let me know.
With best regards,
- Indiana Association of Cities and Towns
Just remembered a couple more accomplishments of the Columbus LWV.Judith Head chaired a committee to study housing for low income citizens in Columbus. Consequently we supported a Housing Authority and she served as the first chair. She later was asked to be a State board member and went on to the National LWV board where she served for many years. The Heads moved to Florida, and, regrettably, she is now deceased.
The Columbus Unit under Miriam Higgins studied the need for pre-school and kindergarten for low-income children. She then initiated a Community Action Program, now known as Health and Human Services, and under that program started Head Start. Regrettably, she too is deceased.
Both the Housing Authority and Head Start are still functioning.
Hope this is helpful.
BETTY MARTIN, VIGO COUNTY LWV
I served as president for a couple of years. I enjoyed the women I had the chance to work with. They were of excellent quality and people I liked being with. We did a lot of different studies. We had a very active observer corps and through it I learned a lot about the community. Observing boards and commissions is an excellent way to learn how a town is run. I remember the League started long ago working on the Juvenal Detention Center. Sometimes it takes a long time. You have to go in stages, change is not easy. The League worked hard on this issue. We have the new Juvenile Justice center now. I was getting into my retirement about that time.
In the last few years my main task has been to coordinate the Crackerbarrel series. At first that was not a League activity but it very soon became one. Crackerbarrel meetings were started by the Chamber of Commerce; they named it to emphasize a relaxed, old-fashioned atmosphere in which to talk with our legislators. The League was a co-sponsor with the Chamber. When the hotel where they held meetings was closed, the League was willing to hold the meetings in the library. The League also invited several other organizations to join in as co-sponsors. We had the teachers association, nurses association, the Wabash Valley Labor Council, and the taxpayers association. The Chamber then decided that it preferred to do something on its own. The Chamber had changed by this time. Their meetings are primarily for their own membership, and the League’s meetings are open. They also were not happy that the Labor Council was included. They withdrew from the group of sponsors saying they felt that business interests were not being met.
Crackerbarrels have been a good forum. We usually have a meeting afterward and the public is welcome to be there. I like that. More collaboration is better. Organizations need to work together. You come with a much broader constituency. I`ve moderated the panel since the new library building was completed. It’s interesting to watch the dynamics of change over time on something like that. Some issues never change: education, taxes, health.
PH: How about other services in Vigo County, water, sewer, things like that?
I remember the Park Department; we have separate city and county park departments. We have two strong ones. Our conclusion a long time ago was that there were good reasons to combine the two but it never happened. Same thing with unigov, a city police and a sheriff’s department. We have the ISU (Indiana State University) police too. Three separate departments.
The League studied education at the state level, 70s I think. A good, strong study was done; it included so many issues, vouchers, charter schools, the ramifications of these various possibilities. I gained a lot of respect for the way the League operates when they were doing that study on education. They had done a lot of in-depth work, research on what kind of systems were working around the county. What is the effect of giving vouchers, the effect on public education. They printed a lot of solid, helpful material. It was done during the time when we had many women active in League.
I was also involved during an inactive time + when women were going to work and we couldn’t do all that work. As women began to move out to jobs it really hit the League hard, other organizations too I’m sure. I think we’ve learned that we don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. There is a lot of good information out there when you know where to look. We were doing basic research back then. We tried to study everything and come to consensus. ……..I’ve changed a little now and am working with different things.
PH: You’re working with the local band and orchestra now?
I research the programs and do the publicity. I keep track of all the music. I have to empty the folders this afternoon and put the music away……..I think an organization like the League is vitally important in our society now when I see what is happening to newspapers and almost the demise of investigative reporting. The weakening of news in the media. We need objective watchdog organizations that keep track of what is going on in our local communities and don’t bring a set agenda. I think the League is as objective as any organization I’ve ever been associated with. We represent a voice that should be heard.
It goes back to that idea of the common good. We don’t have much of an idea any more of the striving for the common good.
RUTH REICHMANN, BROWN COUNTY LWV
For a visioning project you invite people to a guided meeting. A professor from Purdue took us through three sessions. The first we decided where Brown County is, the second was what could be done differently. The third we decided what we could be doing to get to the new vision. Another visioning project was done last year and is being worked now. The first was called Brown County 2010. The League picked the things that were most interesting to us.
We started with planning. But that didn’t get anywhere. So we decided that emergency services would be a good place to start. On planning, we did have a meeting (I was the MC) and the people there said, “We don’t need no services.” I thought “You don’t?” We looked at each other and thought, these people don’t know what services are. Let’s look at services. So emergency services came immediately to mind. That was one of our major studies; we spent several years on that. We met once a month at the county office building and invited speakers to talk about services and how the services affected their populations.
We had water, one of Janet’s babies. She has followed water for years. We had George Miller, director of Brown County Water speak to us. He talked about water lines, that they were way too small. The county was saving money. The lines were not suitable for servicing fire hydrants. That got us into fire. That has a lot to do with planning. Then, how about road widths. They had just bought a large new fire engine. Could it get into some of those side roads, over small bridges; could it get into Annandale and turn around? No, it can’t. And here we were, right in the middle of planning issues. At that point, the fire chief, Steve Gore, said couldn’t we take a look at fire districts? We thought we should have a fire district and at least two paid people. We did an intense study and found that out of five or six fire departments at least three of them were dysfunctional. Then we found out that the fire department money was the major income for the trustees plus a lot of other things. We finished our study and decided that a fire district was the way to go. We needed better training for wildfire fighting because we have so many forests. We presented the study to the Commissioners and to the public. For us that was the end of it. We still have the position. It’s got us into a lot of trouble recently.
That was the 90’s. It came up again just a few years ago. Bill Austin, County Commissioner, looked into it. We gave our information to the Commissioners. Two of the Commissioners, Stephanie Hager and Mike Wolpurt, voted for a fire district. Bill Austin then became negative, as did Gore, the fire chief. It had become political. They were probably lobbied by the fire departments. The issue is still in the courts and is not settled. It will eventually pass. The suit may not do us any good but it can do the State of Indiana good. It will provide information and clarification on how to go about starting a fire district. The state is now looking at township trustees
I got a survey on the issue and said that trusteeship is a remnant of the Middle Ages. They asked if they could quote me, and I said “Yes, you can.” We did other things along with emergency services: The dispatch system, REMC (Rural Electric Membership Corporation), the ambulance system. REMC had to bring it in. We found out how seniors were helped by this. Another thing we did, very significant. There was a fuss about some money given by a local artist, Anna LaTour, to the town of Nashville. She said to use it for a cultural arts center. They used it for a town hall.
We’ve accomplished all we have because we believe in what we are doing. We were instrumental in getting the recycling going. I went to a meeting about trash collecting and recycling. Indianapolis was hosting. They gave out little bags of trash, very creative. I picked up two and dropped them on Suzanne Gaudin’s desk. She was one of our very active members. That was it. We worked like crazy.
The same people were objecting who were always objecting. Hank Swain was always taking the opposite view. He was Marty Swain’s husband. He tagged along and finally joined the League. I said “Let’s put him on the board.” He changed his ways and became a very effective member. It’s better to have your enemies close in your circle. Hank goes to town meetings, keeps track of tax issues. He locked horns with the State League about taxes. Brown County has to have certain taxes; we can’t pay for all the tourists. The state frowns on this. We have an innkeeper’s tax and a food tax. We still want part of the funds taken at the park gates. We have to pay for the ambulance, fire services, police, all these things. We have a different situation and we have to explain. This was 15-20 years back.
I haven’t been so active in the League recently… My husband has been too ill. I’m now more the institutional memory. I turned the records over to Suzanne. She looked through them. “You’ve done everything before.” I said, “Why do you think we’re so damn smart? We do it over and over and over, inching forward.” As Hank Swain said, it suddenly becomes some insider’s idea and then we get it. We keep presenting the information, talking about it, eventually we get it. We don’t go away. I’m convinced that somewhere down the road we’ll get the fire districts. It’s like the Community Foundation. I doubt anyone knows who got the ball rolling on emergency services and on road widths. That is now in the master plan, which isn’t great but it is a start. Sometimes you get to your goal by going in the back way.
I pledged that I would write a health and wellness plan for Brown County. Nobody knows what a health and wellness plan is. I have the introduction practically written. I’ll probably talk to my League friends about this sometime next year. It’s a health issue and a life style issue and would fit into any of these categories. The word is being bantered around everywhere. I grew up in Bavaria, and I grew up with resorts that present health and wellness in sports. I think Brown County would be beautifully suited for that. I get German TV here and they keep talking about the Wellness Association for Austria and Germany. I looked it up on-line. We have several quite active wellness organizations here in the US. We could fit right into it.
Well this area is absolutely suited for it and fits in with what Obama wants for health reform. Wellness starts with a healthy life style. If you think you can waste your body you are kidding yourself. You’re not going to be well. That’s what they’re talking about. Then you can build on it. You can put in all the things that provide enjoyment; food, arts, yoga, massages, Tai chi. and we have all of that here. I swim every other day, in Hotel Nashville, 20 laps on my back.
We have a possible back door to try. There is some agreement in town. We have found out that if we start it in a somewhat devious way, plant ideas with people, we do much better with new ideas. It’s not going to be difficult for me to draw up the plan. As soon as we have things out of the way at the annual meeting I’m just going to present it. They have started health and wellness here at the Y and that could be expanded. They have been talking in the second visioning project. I kept the notes, green farms, healthy food.
I’ve been working in the League since 1976 but I wasn’t a member. I just attended. I was so impressed. At that point my husband was still very German and said he didn’t want his wife joining clubs. I kept just going along. Why was I impressed? I grew up in Hitler’s Germany. People often asked, “Why are you so adamant about political involvement?” When you have lived in a dictatorship you cherish when you can speak up, you know what happens when you don’t speak up. Janet knows that to my dying day I’m going to stay involved if I can. If it hadn’t been for Janet I wouldn’t have had the guts to hang in there. At one point we were going to throw in the towel. We were down to four or five people. Someone said to us “just do the candidates meeting.” So for quite a while that’s what we did. Then somehow we started back up. Janet and I made a deal. I said I’ll be president for a while and then you have to take it. She’s been president for five years. Janet and I have kept working; what has happened shouldn’t be forgotten. We have been talking about the past but we’re talking about the future too. Developing wellness and helping to make Brown County a tourist center is something important and our little Brown County League can help.
BERTINA RUDMAN, BLOOMINGTON-MONROE COUNTY LWV
BR Well, let’s see, I joined the League about the late ’60s and my children were getting older. I was not as busy all the time although I was still working full time. A lot of my friends were in the League. It felt like a place I belonged and that’s what it was.
They put me in charge of voter service and the first thing I did was have a fight with the Republican and Democratic representatives to our candidate forums. They were telling me that they would refuse to appear if the guy who was running as an independent was on the program, so I had to say “that’s tough. You have to do it because he’s on the ballot and he was invited and he’s coming and you guys gotta come too,” so they actually came. But the Independent guy was the life of the party and we really enjoyed the whole thing.
Then they put me in charge of the resource committee to study the election of the president. That was a big job at that time, but I had a good committee and it was really great. We sent in our report. It was a national study, and the whole country decided we wanted to support the direct election of the president. We’ve been trying to do that for 30 years or so. It hasn’t worked out yet.
The next thing they did was ask me to be president. I was shell-shocked with that but they promised to give me as much help as they could. It turned out I was the first women that was working full time and was the president of our League. But they came through with their promise, everybody helped out and I had two wonderful terms, four years, of being president.
PH Who was on the board with you then?
BR Let’s see, this was right after Mary Alice Gray was president. I think Pam Lohmann was certainly one of them. And Kathy Dilcher. I’m not sure; I’d have to look it up. I can’t remember just exactly what was going on at that time. That was the early 70s.Yeah, and right after I finished that job I was asked to join the state board, which I did and I was on the state board for eight or 10 years. During that time I was natural resources chair and program chair. I enjoyed the state work.
PH So after 10 years on the state board did you take a little rest?
BR No, I’ve had every job on the local board down through the years except treasurer, I never became treasurer. I was president, vice president, long time as vice president for organization. I was even secretary for one year. That was hard work, that one, but I figured the board, other league members thought that I’d have withdrawal symptoms if I didn’t stay on the board so they kept giving me different jobs, different board jobs but I always loved it and the same thing has happened just now. I’ve given up my job as 1st vice president. I thought we needed some new blood there, but I’ve been assigned to be the observer corps chair.
PH That makes you my boss at the moment. I’m one of your observers.
BR That’s right. ….I have to get that list for tonight. Let everybody know whose observing.
PH What else do you have on that list that you have in your hand there?
BR Let’s see… I’ve attended many national conventions, maybe eight or 10 through the years. The most exciting one for me was the one in 1976. It was in San Francisco. At that time our neighbor, the Brown County League, was just getting started and the Bloomington League was there to help them. They asked me to represent them at that national convention. The interesting thing about that was that was the year they were trying to decide if men would be admitted into the League and the Brown County League was very much against it, and the Bloomington League was for it. So I was going as the representative of the Brown County League and the only thing they insisted was that I vote against it, so when I got there I had to do that, which was really tough. Yeah it was. I couldn’t believe that was happening. Oh but I was faithful to the Brown County League because I was their representative so I did that. What else? Oh, you reminded me….about the marches in Washington. I went to three of them, all by bus, sleeping on the bus overnight. The first two I went with Kathy Dilcher. The first I kind of went for myself, the second I went for my daughter, and the third I went for my granddaughter.
PH And you and I went to the 3rd one.
BR You and I, and Susan Sandberg and her daughter were also on the bus. That was a good time; there were a million and a half people there.
It’s just little things, I often had the League telephone in my house and at the moment and for quite a while I’ve had the League office. And files and so forth in my house.
PH You’ve been supporting the League the whole time you’ve been a member.
BR Yeah, I’ve been active. And it’s….practically my only organization, outside of working and besides singing with the Bloomington Chamber Singers. It’s pretty stimulating, and the women are the kind of people I really like. I’ve enjoyed it all these years.
PH I think it’s meant a great deal to you.
BR It certainly has. I was glad I found the organization. It really fit me, and I’m excited by what they do.
CAROLYN TOOPS, VIGO COUNTY LWV
Joining the League certainly led to many other opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. My husband was a chemist at Commercial Solvents, and the wives were expected to adhere to a code of behavior. We were not to be flamboyant and only certain activities were okay. Depending on the nature of the husband’s job each group of wives, such as the research wives, thought that it was superior. I couldn’t work then because we had begun a family. In those days the corporate culture required that the men went to the country club for dinner, and only once a year the women got dressed up and went to the Terre Haute House. We had some couples friends but I made most of my friends in the community.
When I joined the League, this must have been in the 50s, I had an opportunity to learn more about the State of Indiana and the way the government operated. We had not lived in other places, Chicago and Berkeley, California long enough to establish residency for voting so I was interested in the way that functioned. League was the perfect place for me. There were so many brilliant women who had been stifled just because of the role of women in society at that time.
My favorite position in the League was voter service. I never wanted to be president. The president was the front person who made statements. I did not want a high profile. I did get to meet all the candidates. And had a chance to have some contact with the school corporation and learn a bit about the education system. At the time we came to Terre Haute we had what was called the School City which took in the city limits of Terre Haute. It had a five-member elected school board. Each elected trustee in the 12 townships of Vigo County administered a school. It was not until some years later, when I had been appointed to serve on the Tax Adjustment Board (it doesn’t exist any more), which met once a year to review all the budgets of all the agencies in the county, that I learned a lot about the township schools. Some were very small and sometimes had barely enough money for the trustee to do basic maintenance. Makes you think about the quality of education and those who would be hired as teachers by these officials. Something had to be done about how poorly run and financed these schools were. For the 1960 November election, the Terre Haute League worked at the polls to support reorganization. It passed. The circuit court judge carefully appointed the first seven-member school board, which had 18 months until the first election. There were complications. The appointed board had enough to think about with the schools, but they were also responsible for the library system. There were no library services outside the city limits, which was not fair to citizens who lived there. It wasn’t until 14 years later that something was actually done, when the League spearheaded that separation of schools and libraries.
The League was usually limited to agenda items we had chosen to concentrate on. In the 60s, one issue was deteriorating county facilities. For example, the County Indigents’ Home was in deplorable condition. There was also a separate building at 35th and Maple where men with mental problems were housed. Only when a citizens’ committee, including a couple of prominent MDs, educators, union members, and a few women had been formed did we realize how horrifying that situation was. In particular the League became involved with the Glenn Home for dependent children. The Home was in poor condition. The circuit court judge and the county welfare board were responsible for the program’s supervision, but the County Commissioners were responsible for the physical property. One winter there was a problem with the Glenn Home’s furnace. The County Commissioners didn’t do anything until the judge threatened to put up all the kids in the Terre Haute House. Only then did the Commissioners repair the furnace. The judge had a lot of power; it was an exciting time.
I had been involved a lot in voter service and had written various articles for the newspaper. I’d also been involved with some others in working on the pre-election unit that was required for grades 6 through 12 in the schools. I pitched a series of articles to the editor to be published in the Sunday edition of the paper before elections. I titled it “Who’s in Charge of Elections.” It went through the whole process from voter registration to printing of the ballots. In 1965, when our second TV station (WTWO-NBC) was started, it was eager to serve the community. I had met the news director, Paul Hoffman and pitched an idea for a three-part series on elections and wrote the script. I didn’t think it was so hard to do.
In the 60s before the title programs had started one of my friends who had been involved in schools came up with the idea of volunteer tutors for elementary school grades two through six, children who needed extra attention, a little boost to help with work in school. She rounded up a lot of women, many former teachers, and women like me looking for something interesting to do. We talked with principals and teachers and eventually worked two days a week with selected children. I did not tutor. I don’t like teaching but I was the Volunteer Tutors president and ran interference with the school corporation. I always regretted there was no way to follow up with these kids later in life. Volunteer Tutors operated for several years before the title programs began. I was also president of the Coordinating Council for another year. Basically I like to work by myself and with a small group and not have endless meetings going on.
I also got involved with the mental health people. Katherine Hamilton, a local woman, was very concerned about treatment for people in mental health care. She established the Katherine Hamilton Health Center to improve care for people with mental health problems. For example, several incarcerated men who were sent to Norman Beatty State Hospital for assessment committed suicide in the county jail. I pitched an idea to the County Commissioners as well as a judge and State Representative Bill Roach, to visit Norman Beatty. I organized the trip and Marge McCormick, head of the County Mental Health Association, as well as the county officials came with me. The men sent there were supposed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. It turned out that he was German and didn’t speak English very well. Not much was being done to determine the state of mental health of the men sent there. It was a revelation to all of us.
The League did not have observers at that time and we still have trouble getting people to commit. People do go to City Council and County Council if there is something on the agenda important to them. As a League member I always stayed and talked with the officials. They weren’t used to people who were there with no axe to grind, just there to listen in and observe.
Our State Representative Bill Roach was one of few local legislators who stopped at the Courthouse often to talk about what was on people’s minds before going to Indianapolis. I worked at the paper and so rarely said anything of a personal nature but it was the time of the Equal Rights Amendment. Bill Roach was against it and they were to vote that very day. I approached him and spoke about my experience with JC Penney, which denied me a charge card because I was a widow. My husband had died in an industrial explosion in 1970. Penney’s turned me down. Bill changed his mind. The press was all over him, “What made you change your mind?” And he said, “I talked to a woman in Terre Haute.” One vote did make a difference that day, but Indiana still didn’t pass the ERA.
Now this is something I haven’t discussed yet. I’d been working at the Tribune-Star for about four years part-time. My husband was a chemist at Commercial Solvents and was working on a joint project with another company, Pan American Petroleum of Tulsa, OK. They were testing some unconventional explosives and nine men were killed in an explosion. This was November 11, 1970. My husband was one of them. He usually called me on Wednesday and I didn’t hear from him and nothing the next morning. One of my Press Club friends at radio station WBOW was reading the wire from United Press International and that is when I heard the news that my husband had been killed in an explosion with eight other men. They didn’t notify me. I still don’t know what really happened there.
My League friends really were amazing… One said “Let me go cash a check for you right away.” The bank would listen to obits and freeze accounts immediately in those days. Then visitation went on for days. My League friends arranged shifts for me so that I always had someone there with me. I really appreciated that a lot. You don’t realize until something happens how much you appreciate having friends there. I never did learn too much about the explosion. I saw photos where the blast occurred. After three months I had no more benefits from Commercial Solvents and I needed to go full-time on the Tribune-Star. It was fortunate that I was able to do so.
I participated in the printer’s union strike in February 1981. After the strike I became Director of the Taxpayers’ Association. This was like an expanded newsbeat; I monitored the local government agencies and wrote reports. It was a paid position but provided no benefits.
I want to tell you about some of my appointments. My very first was my mayoral appointment to the Citizens Committee for Community Improvement (CCCI). I was appointed to the Air Pollution Control Board and I am now on the County Parks Board, this is about my 12th year. I’ve worked with the Community Theater, the Swope Art Museum, Arts Illiana. I was on the AI executive committee. We almost had to close that organization, but it’s thriving now. For about 30 years we had a very active press club when Terre Haute had more radio and television stations and newspaper employees. It was a change for us to have some social time together, but it disbanded around 1995. I was president of the Press Club one year, then treasurer until the end about 20 years ago.
I’m no longer really active in the League, but I still go to things. I was treasurer for a long time. When I was working at the paper I needed to avoid the spotlight and that position suited me. I don’t think League members now go to as many meetings as we did in the old days. You really need to know who is in office and how they are doing their jobs.
Come downstairs with me now. I want to show you the photographs on my wall. My son calls it my “I Love Me” wall.
NATALIE WRUBEL, BLOOMINGTON-MONROE COUNTY LWV
This was in 1952, when school consolidation was just starting. Until that time there had been a school system in each of the 10 or 11 townships in Monroe County. I believe Bloomington and Perry were consolidating. Richland and Bean Blossom came several years later. My husband probably rued his request that I join the League because at some point I was Voter Service Chair. It was not as complicated as things are today, but I was pretty busy with this and that meeting. There was something around the house he wanted me to do and I kept putting it off and putting it off (I don’t remember what it was). One evening when we were all at the dinner table my husband looked at our children and said, “I’m appointing your Mother a committee of one to take care of this problem.” I couldn’t resist that approach so I did the job, whatever it was.
I think my first job in the League was addressing the newsletter, by hand. We had about 200 members and knew nothing about labels. Another member of the League would bring me a stack of about 100, and I had my stamps and my list, and she’d come back later that day or the next and pick them up and take them to the Post Office. We didn’t know about bulk mail, we just stamped them, probably at three cents a stamp then. I think in somebody’s basement there was a ditto machine, so there was this group of League members with purple ink on their hands all the time. Later we had a mimeograph, which kept breaking down. It was a source of great anxiety and frustration. Xerox finally appeared on the scene and we’ve been civilized ever since.
I remember being terribly impressed with some of the older women, who were probably in their 40s and 50s. I was still in my 20s. We had an orientation meeting and I met some ladies who had actually served on the National Board. When I was a brand-new member of the League I had uneasy feelings about the role of National in shaping our responses to consensus and concurrence questions. I wondered if the presentations of the issues were biased so that members would respond in the ways National favored. I wrote a letter to someone on the National Board, but I never received an answer. In later years, I came to have considerable respect for the work that went into preparing the materials for our consideration, and felt less suspicious. Recently, however, I’ve been disappointed in National’s presentations. I’ve found them inadequate, with the questions either biased or poorly phrased, and asking for all-or-nothing acceptance, with no opportunity to add arguments agreeing or disagreeing with parts of the issues. Often, we’ve been given little warning and have had to scurry to meet deadlines for responding.
At this point, I feel that the ordinary member has been abandoned by National. First, the “National Voter” went from four issues a year to three; then we were offered an electronic version, and now publication has been completely suspended, with very little notice. We now have virtually no contact with our parent organization. A year before the cessation of publication, our League took out a five-year subscription to the Voter for our public library. As Treasurer of our local League, I inquired about getting a refund for the remaining four years. The reply was that it was coming, coming, coming, but it took many exchanges of e-mails before we got our $60 check. I wonder if there would have been a refund if I hadn’t raised the question and persisted.
We had a lot more meetings in earlier days than we have now. We had two sets of unit meetings each month. We didn’t have many general meetings. Each unit had two possibly three sessions, a morning one with a baby-sitter, for which you paid a small amount. Then there was a noon lunch meeting for the old ladies and then an evening meeting, the one I went to. On our newsletter addresses we were Mrs. John Jones, I guess unmarried women were Miss; for everyone the honorific was there. I remember making a statement at City Council and the Herald Times reporter came around to get my name; I told him Natalie Wrubel. He said “What is your husband’s name?” I said “He’s not here, he’s home baby-sitting.” Times have changed.
In the mid-sixties the League tried to get voting machines for Monroe County. I think we got them in 64 or 65. The County Commissioners and County Council were already looking in that direction and we pushed them to go there. Sometime after that I guess was when I was Voter Service Chair for a while, in the mid 60s.
I went to two national conventions. One was in Pittsburgh, in 66 I think and the other in San Diego in 1998. I don’t remember much about the 66 one except I had more than enough League before it was done. Over the years I’ve been secretary and I’ve been treasurer for 10 or12 years now. I just accepted the nomination for another two years but I did ask that someone come and see what I do, so in case I drop dead one of these days, somebody could pick up the pieces.
I haven’t been so much on issue committees. In the beginning I started mailing out the newsletters and I’ve come full circle on that. There used to be a committee but it slowly dissolved. Then, being treasurer, it seemed sensible to take on the roster as well. We are moving to sending it by e-mail this year. The membership list has to stay in-house, so just as soon as it is purged of non-members, who should not receive it, I will send it out.
Another activity I’ve always done is the Fourth of July Parade. It’s partly walking and carrying the banner and partly riding in whatever truck we could find. I remember one year it was about 90 degrees and we didn’t have a truck. There were about 10 people who were going to march. I called them all and told them to stay home. The parade was in the hottest part of the day. Now it’s in the morning, and we use George Hegeman’s truck. Judy Granbois and I made the banner for the League of Women Voters. We pasted on these felt letters that had been generated on an old computer type machine where you set the paper in sidewise. We still have the banner. It got wet one July 4th, remained wet and rolled up for several months and when unrolled was all mildewed. George Hegeman, bless him, treated it with some strong peroxide and then laundered it. I still had the iron-on tape, and he retaped the letters.
I’ve been the League observer for the Bloomington Board of Zoning Appeals. I chose that because it meets once a month and is easy to do. You get to know what is going on in town and get to know those who are in the know. We used to go in pairs, one new and one experienced. We were observing fewer boards in those days. So much goes on in Bloomington now and the number of boards and commissions seems to keep growing too. League meetings are fewer now, and we have fewer members too. We need more money because the LWVUS keeps raising our Per Member Payment. I’m afraid they will again at the next convention. I’m thankful the LWVIN has not raised theirs for years. The last two times the LWVUS raised the PMP, it was applied immediately and, bang, we had to find the money.
At some time we moved our Education Fund from the State League. I’ve been very happy that we did. I was never sure when I sent funds that State had received them. I used to send a postcard to return to acknowledge receipt but I wouldn’t always get it. We decided that we could take control of it here in Bloomington. Now we have another donated fund, the Ann Diamant Memorial Fund, and it has a fair amount of money in it. Ann, when she was young, wanted to do research, but she didn’t have the money so her daughter set up the fund to help members to do research. Now so much of it can be done online. We have to be more creative in using the Diamant funds.
Over the years I’ve been involved in several of our local publications. I don’t recall how I got started with them–probably offered to proofread or do copy editing and soon found myself in charge. I contributed to and edited two editions of Here Is Your Local Government, which was patterned on the State Chamber of Commerce publication Here Is Your Indiana Government. The sixth edition of the local booklet was published in 1986 and is very out-dated and long out of print. I was also in charge of at least two editions of A Guide to Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana, which described the physical and cultural amenities of the region. The 5th revised edition was published in 2001, and its sales provided a modest amount of income for the Bloomington League. A few years ago there was a movement to update and revise Here Is Your Local Government. A committee was formed, and each of us volunteered to revise particular sections, but nothing ever came of it. At that same meeting it was proposed to combine these two publications in one monster booklet, since many cultural activities have connections to government; I didn’t think this was a good idea.
I have been updating our “Member’s Handbook.” We recently reduced the size of it and increased its relevance by directing members to websites at the local, state, and national levels to read about the policy positions held at each level. With conventions occurring every year, it was impossible to keep up-to-date on positions without reprinting the entire handbook each year.
What we do reprint each year is our Monroe County Governmental Officials List. Production costs are underwritten by local businesses. For the last several years we have printed 1100 copies, which are distributed free to our members, contributors to our Finance Drive, social service agencies, and many local governmental offices. It’s a lot of work to compile all that information–32 pages listing elected and appointed officials, boards, and commissions at the city, county, township, and regional levels–but it’s a great reward to see how much each new edition is anticipated and welcomed by members of the community.