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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Where have you gone, John Chapman?

In which we revise and revisit



Welcome, fellow Fort Wayne-ians, to the festival that celebrates our combined love of chicken and dumplings, caramel apples, and bottled root beer. We always spend some time at the music stage next to where the Homestead music parents -- full disclosure, we are unabashed alumni -- serve up the aforementioned chicken dish, in styrofoam cups with plastic spoons, at $5 a pop. Speaking of pop, in the vernacular of us Midwesterners, in deference to the pioneer-i-ness of these two days, Pepsi can only be purchased at the tent of the Psi Iota Xi sorority, long-time participants (and organizers, and more) of the festival; this irony seems to have struck only me. And what if I were climb upon the music stage and yell, 'Where are the Swedenborgians!?', perhaps after the string quartet had finished plucking 'John's favorite song,' as they described it? For no overt Swedenborgianism is to be found anywhere, in either park, nor does his grave (-- or is it? Opinions differ, although I certainly prefer to think he's buried on the shaded hilltop with the cobblestones and the iron fence all around, than on the Canterbury Green golf course). Anyway, no where near his grave does it say that John was, along with being an apple nurseryman (rather than orchard-planter), a Swedenborgian missionary. And as pretty as the crafts are and as tasty as the kettle corn and as plaintive a march as the bagpipers step to, wouldn't it be, well, authentic, to have a John Chapman reality-show area, where we could learn some actual history of this Massachusetts-born, Ohio-based, land-owning, vegetarian. I looked for him at his festival, and found him only in the campfire smoke that wafted quietly over the trees, touched by the late-afternoon sun, chased by the last notes of his favorite song.

Indiana boy with Johnny Appleseed sentiments.


My life is now / Not gonna waste it on the piling up the treasures in the sun / Cause maybe tomorrow never comes / Oh, ooh, ooh, yeah! / Maybe tomorrow never comes

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