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I'm the Local Gal in Richmond, Indiana, exploring my hometown and heart. I write about all thing local, sometimes global. It's a small world after all.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Richmond, Indiana: Roots and New Growth

"All the stories I'll ever need are right here on Main Street."
~Robert Cormier~

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I am in Richmond, Indiana. I was not born here. There are people who live and work here whose families have somehow belonged to this community for generations. Their ancestors are interned at Earlham Cemetery and King's. Their great-greats were community founders. Their grandparents and parents are respected business people or involved in one of the several colleges in our city or perhaps one parent is a doctor at Reid Hospital. They have ties that go way back.

I'm still not sure how my family- a family with strange and twisted roots ended up of all places in East Central Indiana- a stone's throw away from the Ohio border. My mother is a first generation American on her mother's side (and possibly her father's too). Her mother's family escaped the collapse of their mining community in the Netherlands after the war. Her father's family was from the Phillipines. Somehow they all ended up a jumble in the Midwest. If you ask my dad, he's Kentuckian. How a Kentuckian met and married a Dutch/Filipino American Girl is another story, but the setting was already Indiana, although, it was not Richmond.

We moved here when I was nine months old. My family is a fairly fresh transplant (by native Richmond standards), and our roots are still new here. Because in some ways, I have felt like an outsider looking in, I think I have a different perspective from descendants of Richmond's founders. I have a different perspective from someone whose family witnessed the Downtown explosion that shook the city in 1968. They know Richmond as she was, a"Rose City", an economic boom town, and a city that was touted as panic proof during times of financial uncertainty around the country. There is a sense that we can't go back, that we may have irrevocably lost it.

There are families that have stuck it out in the tough times. The Veach's have been in Richmond for generations. Their store, Veach's Toy Station has been an anchor through the good times and the bad. For hundreds of children, Veach's Birthday Castle has been an anticipated annual tradition. I grew up in a large family in which birthdays were celebrated quietly. I can tell you that each year on my birthday when I received an invitation in the mail to visit the castle and pick a special gift, every year it was downright magical. It's still magical for my own children now. Veach's is a family business passed from one generation to the next. They recently celebrated their 75th year and the passing of the reins to John and Shari Veach, a couple who with their friends are eager to build up the Richmond community at its center, Downtown.

Event Photos Provided by Ply Fiber Arts & Jade Photography

After 75 years, it was fitting to celebrate the toy store's birthday as a community. At Veach's 75th Birthday Party the Downtown of Richmond, Indiana came alive anew. It was not a sentimental recreation of days gone by. It was a celebration of today. Over 550 balloons were distributed to the hundreds of children who came for a party at our favorite toy store. Gift bags were given. The Local-Lady contributed over 200 vials of bubble solution. The street was brimming with bubbles of fun. The fire department was on hand not to quench flames but to host a sprinkler party for enthusiastic kiddos. The children were hula hooping, bouncing, drawing on the streets with chalk and munching goodies. Downtown and Main Street merchants banded together in a way that they had not for years. Looking outside, up and down the streets, I saw not a picture of what was, but what can be and will be. A newly recreated downtown that fits today's need for interactivity, creativity and opportunities that speak to generations both young and old.
Local Lady Snapshot: Art by GONZO247 via CityLife

The Downtown is not the only place showing signs of life... There are so many more. There are new families making Richmond their home. There are new generations stepping up to lead. New connections and collaborations are all happening now. Each individual making the choice to give back to this community, breathes new life into this Rose City.

Sometimes the past seems so rosy and distant. We cannot go back, and we shouldn't want to, really. Things will not be as they were, they will be new. They will be different, and I think we'll find that different can be good. Maybe you'll find it can even be quite wonderful.

And by the way, we still grow roses...

Local-Lady Snapshot: Richmond Rose Garden

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Special Thanks to Center City Richmond, Ply Fiber Arts & Veach's Toy Station for their community building efforts & successes, as well as for their support & encouragement of the Local-Lady. Thank you so very much! Here's to next year's Main Street Celebrations & many more to follow! 


  1. Great post about Richmond with some wonderful photos of what must have been a special day. Love your Richmond-affirming updates on Facebook. It helps me feel less homesick!

  2. I'll keep them coming! I really enjoyed reading your blog today. I was a reluctant girl scout myself, great name! I was probably the worst cookie salesperson in history, and that's saying something when those cookies sell themselves! ;)