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In 1997, my brother, Destin, moved to Fowler, Indiana to teach middle school social studies.  Over the years, through my infrequent visits, I have fallen in love with this picturesque community that is so neighborly.

Here are some photos I took this weekend.

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Fowler is a town in Center TownshipBenton CountyIndianaUnited States. The population was 2,415 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lafayette, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Fowler was platted by Moses Fowler and his wife on October 26, 1872, and originally consisted of 583 lots, though a re-platting on April 8, 1875, expanded it to 1,602 lots and 20 blocks. Several more additions were made to the town over subsequent years.

The town’s first home was erected in March 1871 by Scott Shipman, and its first business opened in June of that year, a small general store run by Henry D. Clark. Many more businesses followed over the next few years, including the Henry Jacobs & Son grocery, grain elevators built by L. Templeton, and blacksmith John E. Mitchell, who was also the town’s first postmaster (succeeded by grocer Henry Jacobs). In 1874, Fowler became the county seat, which until that time had occupied nearby Oxford.

The town was incorporated in 1875, and its rapid growth is clear from the following list, printed in an 1883 history of Benton County:

“In September, 1875, the town of Fowler contained ten lawyers, one minister, three doctors, one dentist, one baker, two barber shops, three billiard saloons, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, three boot and shoe stores, one grain elevator, two dry goods stores, twenty carpenters, one furniture store, two stove and tin stores, one hardware store, one hotel, three restaurants, two drug stores, three millinery establishments, two saloons, two livery stables, three retail groceries, one clothing store, one merchant tailor, one graded school, two printing offices, two lumber yards, two churches and about 1,200 inhabitants.”[3]

Fowler is home to the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm.

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“If no one responds to the ad in the paper, you can keep him.”

I am sure I was not the only boy in the country to hear those words from his mother.  I heard those words in September 1970.

My description of the meeting was that the dog was at Burger’s Dairy Store after school, and followed me home.

Almost…

I did find the discarded puppy on the raised slab of concrete leading into the store, right next to the soda vending machines.  The little Manchester dog looked up, wagged his tail excitedly, and somehow, wiggled into my arms.  I carried him down the block, carefully setting him down at the tall hedge that separated our yard from Dick & Betsy Herndon’s yard.  Fortunately, he followed me to the long, stone steps that led up to our wrap-around porch on the top of the big hill at Ninth & Main streets.

No one claimed the dog, and he became a semi-permanent fixture in our home.

In 1970, one of my good friends was Debbie Poynter, a neighbor, and a fellow kindergarten student at the nearby Washington Elementary School.  Debbie’s nickname was “Pokey.”  According to her older sister, Julie, the nickname was bestowed on Debbie because she was so “pokey” while feeding as a baby.

So, in honor of Debbie (my grandfather also nicknamed her, “John”), I named this new dog, Pokey.

It was the idyllic “boy and his dog” story… Pokey followed me everywhere… he slept at the foot of my

Pokey 1982

Pokey 1982

bed… gathered up my belongings when I was away for the day… chewed up one of Mother’s shoes and gloves… chewed the feet off of one of my action figures from Johnny West’s Best of the West… and the best, was always so happy to see me.

Due to several vicious attacks by a neighbor’s German Shepherd, Pokey became fearful, and anxious.  the scars on his neck healed, but he nipped, and even bit at strangers.  My grandfather could not bear seeing Pokey chained up in our backyard, and asked if he could keep Pokey out at the farm.

The last ten years at Grandpa & Grandma’s were truly wonderful years for Pokey.  I don’t believe any dog had a more spacious, warmer dog house with loads of installation installed for the winter months.

Every weekend we ventured the thirteen miles South of Elwood to my grandparents’ home, we were always excitedly greeted by Pokey who still followed me about.

In 1982, I had not seen Pokey in months due to marching band.  Grandpa told me Pokey had really slowed down, and was having difficultly getting around. It had gotten to the point that they had to set Pokey down off the porch for his potty-breaks; he was too infirm to walk down the steps.

Darin with Pokey & Duchess 1982

Darin with Pokey & Duchess 1982

Thanksgiving morning, we arrived for dinner at my grandparents’ house, and Pokey recognized the car. With great effort, and tremendous difficulty, Pokey rose, walked down the three steps, and met me in the middle of the driveway.  He was still the ever devoted companion, and still excited to see me.

Christmas morning was a repeat – Pokey rose to greet me in the driveway.

That was the last I saw my wonderful pal.  The next month, Grandma Donna found him in the garage.  Her dog, Duchess, was laying with her paws wrapped around Pokey, and crying.

It’s been thirty years since my little Pal died, and since then, I have been blessed with three other wonderful pals – Flyer, Chief and Navi.  Still, I will always remember Pokey’s companionship, and his constant devotion, so often echoed by Flyer’s own devotion – and more so, that of Navi and Chief.

NOTE:  I could not tell the Story of Pokey without including this tidbit which has become legend in our family stories.  I was in the high school musical, OKLAHOMA! when Pokey died. Mother decided it best not to tell me of Pokey’s passing until after the musical closed that weekend. I hurried home for supper that evening before returning to the high school. While eating, my brother, ten years younger, and I got into a squabble. His final thrust was, “Your dog’s dead! Grandma found him in the garage this morning. He’s dead.”  I looked with horror to my mother for confirmation. She nodded. I can still remember the shock, but even more so, the look on Mother’s face that alternated between 1) sympathy for me, 2) aggravation with Destin for spilling the beans, and 3) biting her lip to keep from chuckling.

I am sitting in my study, as I do four days a week, writing.  Each afternoon through mid-evening I teach private lessons. But prior to teaching, I have three-scheduled hours of writing time, cheerfully followed by errands, and household chores. I am fortunate to spend my mornings, somewhat leisurely, writing, simply because one lady told me I could write, and then, she showed me how to write.

Darren Paquin

Although my younger siblings cringed when Darren Paquin pulled out my high school essays, written nearly a decade earlier, they also expressed some pride that their eldest brother was still remembered in the classrooms, and hallways, of Elwood Community High School. They often razzed me for my writing skills, but they never realized how much effort, time, and work, I put into writing, and especially, depending on the topic, research, and outlining.

Since the fall of 1982, I have continually used the “rock of writing” learned in Mrs. Paquin’s classroom: an outline. I can remember the encouragement, and insistence, that was her daily mantra, “Outline.” I always knew, when I ran into writing issues, the first question I would be asked, “Where’s your outline?”

One day, Mrs. Paquin hovered over my shoulder as I struggled with a particular paragraph in an essay. “Let me take a look at your outline.” It was such a casual request, yet one I was dreading that morning. I had no outline. I admitted that I had skipped a procedure in the very thing I now promote as a teacher: PROCESS. Mrs. Paquin straightened, looked down, and just stood there with a ‘are-you-kidding-me-? smile. For several seconds, she said nothing. Finally, using her red flair-tipped editing pen, she tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “You know I expect more from you.” And with that, she moved on to the next student, but turned to reaffirm her statement with a smile, punctuated with a wink.

For my sons, former students, and current students, who are reading this, I am sure there is a breeze, accompanied by the sound of a flock of fleeing birds, as they shake their heads, and roll their eyes. “I expect more from you,” an oft used phrase in The Haasienda, runs a close second to our family motto: “Always do your best – always!” That morning in Mrs. Paquin’s advanced composition class seemed to add a new element to my life’s journey, and future career. Through the years, the phrase became ingrained in my soul as a constant marker, reminding me to continually challenge myself to do better in all areas of my life.

My favorite photo of Mrs. & Mr. Paquin

Several years after I graduated from high school, Mrs. Paquin began a new chapter of living as she began her own process of survival. Her heart specialists prescribed an outline for living, and this outline included a transplant from a heart donor. As you can see from the posted video below, she kept to the outline.

I always tell my sons that I will never be their friend, nor they, mine. I explain that my mother will never be my friend.  She is my mother. Yes, we have had a wonderful relationship for the past 47 years, but I could never reduce her status as anything other than the very reverent title,  Mother. The same holds for Mrs. Paquin, and several other Elwood teachers who have had a tremendous impact on my life. Yes, in many ways, Mrs. Paquin, has been a valued friend, but as she was thirty years ago, she still is, today, my beloved Teacher.

I continue to learn from this wonderful lady through the inspiration of faith, hope, and perseverance she demonstrates. I am so grateful that when God was designing Mrs. Paquin’s life-outline, I was included as one of the many subheadings.

And I must be honest… I did not create an outline for this particular blog-post. Sometimes, the heart has it’s own outline.

Mrs. Paquin, know you are loved…

25 Years of Heart Transplant at St.Vincent Heart Center

Note:  Mr. Gordon Paquin was my high school principal, and one of the best role models for a fatherless teenager. Mr. & Mrs. Paquin have two children, Dawn and Derek, who attended high school with me. 

I am finishing up the writing of a musical on the Wright Brothers, and in one particular scene, I recreate the concept of the hobble skirt when a modesty cord is tied around a young lady’s long, voluminous skirts prior to a flight with Wilbur Wright. A fashion designer happened to be in the crowd, watching these famed flights of 1909, and captured a new fashion design when the lady scooted away from the areoplane with the modesty cord still in place. In my research, I discovered the young designer was from Paris’ famed, The House of Paquin. You can bet The House of Paquin is mentioned in the musical!

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