15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana

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1. Though it is seldom mentioned in the comic strip or cartoon series, "Garfield" takes place in Muncie. The television special Happy Birthday, Garfield mentions Muncie — where creator Jim Davis went to college — as Garfield and owner Jon Arbuckle’s place of residence.

2. Indiana sits atop one of the richest concentrations of limestone on the planet, and prides itself on the fine quality of its mineral output. Indiana’s limestone has helped build the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Cathedral, and more.

3. The first gasoline pump was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sept. 5, 1885. Its conception, invention, and sale constitute the second greatest triumph of one Sylvanus Freelove Bowser. His greatest triumph, of course, is that name.

4. The 21,000 students attending Ball State University have quite the unique benefactor to thank for their education. The school, founded in 1918, sits on land donated by the Ball Corporation, a company that is most famous for its canning jars but also creates spacecraft and aeronautics equipment.

5. Indiana Jones was born in New Jersey (to a father from Scotland), raised in New Mexico and Utah, schooled in England, and employed in Illinois and Connecticut. He adventured in Nevada, Egypt, Nepal, India, China, Austria, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Peru… and he favored New York professional sports teams. Never once have we seen Dr. Jones, who was created by two fellows from Ohio and California, set foot in Indiana. (Henry borrowed his extracurricular nickname from a childhood dog, in fact.)

6. Nobody seems to know for sure where the Indiana demonym “Hoosier” came from, or what it even means. (There was a gag about this in the Indiana-set comedy film In & Out, in which Lewis J. Stadlen’s character is repeatedly interrupted before he can reveal the origin of the term.) Varied theories attach the terminology to pejorative slang, a frontiersman warning call, a Cumbrian word that might refer to a hilly landscape, the names of labor entrepreneur Samuel Hoosier and Methodist Reverend Harry Hosier, and a satirical yarn involving a Frenchman stumbling upon the aftermath of a brawl in which a man’s ear had been bitten off.

7. Simply by default — as Alexandria resident Michael Carmichael realized one day — there has to be a ball of paint somewhere that is bigger than any other ball of paint on this vast planet. Carmichael then made up his mind to become the owner of that ball of paint. On New Year's Day 1977, Carmichael revisited his favorite childhood activity by dipping a baseball in a bucket of paint. Every year since, he and his family have added coats upon coats of paint to this offbeat art project, winding up with a sphere weighing over 3,750 pounds from more than 23,000 coats of paint. The ball now resides in a shed next to Carmichael's home, where visitors are invited to add a fresh coat of paint to keep the project rolling.

8. Warsaw, Indiana’s nickname might not be as hip and exciting as Sin City or the Big Easy, but it’s certainly more reassuring: the town is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the World, due to its pioneering of the manufacture and distribution of orthopedic appliances between 1895 and 1905. Today, over 50 percent of the world market share for orthopedic devices comes from Warsaw-based companies.

9. For most of us, fouling up a math problem resulted in little more than a few points off the midterm. But one geometric miscalculation got Indiana physician Edwin Goodwin laughed out of the Senate. In 1894, the would-be numbers whiz — believing he had discovered a game-changing method for the impossible task of squaring a circle — approached Representative Taylor Record with a legal proposal ever so humbly titled, “A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897.” Despite being anything but mathematically sound, Goodwin’s proposal made it from Indiana’s House of Representatives all the way to State Senate, where it actually had a fair chance at passing… until Senator Orrin Hubbell proclaimed it no man or government’s authority to sanction the properties of math. After that, as history tells, everyone pretty much got on the anti-Pi Bill (as it is derisively, albeit inaccurately, nicknamed), and laughed Goodwin out of the legislative process.

10. On March 31, 1880, Wabash became the first city to be illuminated by electric light. Ohio inventor Charles Brush, who had once brought light to a Cleveland park, was on the hunt for a grander conquest: an entire town. Teaming with the Common Council of Wabash, Brush adorned the courthouse flagstaff with a set of four 3,000-candlepower lamps rigged to a generator. The glow is said to have been visible at a mile’s distance, and to have been witnessed by 10,000 citizens.

11. If you’ve ever found yourself belting a karaoke anthem of “Louie, Louie,” then you’ve experienced the distinct realization that you’ve never understood any of the words (well, save for the titular refrain) in the catchy Kingsmen tune. In the 1960s, Indiana took issue with this incomprehensibility, assuming that the rock ditty was intentionally mumbled to hide its lyrics' obscene nature. As such, the state's radio stations stopped airing the song at the request of Governor Matthew Walsh (who was coerced into banning the number by, of all people, a contemporary teenager).

12. Historically, Indiana has produced more professional basketball players per capita than another state, sending 26 of every million citizens to the NBA. Indiana’s tenth-largest city, Muncie, also holds the distinction of being the metropolitan area to produce the most players per capita (with 59 players per every million). Indiana is also responsible for the largest number of high school students to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game: 44 of the 888 young men to play in the competition since 1977 have hailed from Indiana.

13. While a handful of states have Indiana beat in overall ice cream production, the plucky little state certainly makes the most of what it has. According to a study in 2011, Indiana produced 87 million gallons of ice cream from only 19 factories over the course of the year. That’s 4.6 million gallons per factory, which greatly outshines Texas's 1.4 million gallons per factory (97 million gallons total from 71 factories) and California’s 800,000 gallons per factory (162 million gallons total from 202 factories).

14. The very first peacetime train robbery in documented history happened just outside of Seymour. Local boys the Reno Gang (otherwise known as the Jackson Thieves, named so for the Indiana county they called home) pioneered the gambit on October 6, 1866, swiping over $10,000 from passengers headed east.

15. Indiana’s Heritage House Convalescent Center has housed a couple of noteworthy residents. Edna Parker, the oldest living person between the years of 2007 and 2008, and Sandy Allen, the tallest woman in American history, resided in the Shelbyville retirement center at the same time.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Facts About the White Night Riots

Rioters outside of San Francisco City Hall on the night of May 21, 1979, reacting to the voluntary manslaughter verdict for Dan White, which ensured White would serve just five years for the murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone.
Rioters outside of San Francisco City Hall on the night of May 21, 1979, reacting to the voluntary manslaughter verdict for Dan White, which ensured White would serve just five years for the murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone.
Daniel Nicoletta, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

On November 27, 1978, Dan White, a former police officer and city supervisor, broke into San Francisco City Hall with a loaded revolver. Evading metal detectors, he snuck through a basement window and shot and killed both Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, San Francisco's first openly gay elected official, in their offices. Weeks earlier, the mayor had refused to reinstate White as city supervisor after he previously resigned from the position; Milk was among those who backed the mayor's choice. Hours after the shootings, White turned himself in to the police and confessed to his crimes. What seemed like an open-and-shut murder case, however, turned out to be anything but.

The city's gay and lesbian population stood aghast on May 21, 1979, as White was convicted of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter, which only carried with it a maximum prison sentence of seven years and eight months (White would only serve five years). That night, thousands of enraged protestors showed up at City Hall and engaged in violent clashes with the police over the outcome of the trial. What would later become known as the White Night Riots redefined the relationship San Francisco's gay and lesbian community had with the political structure and law enforcement in the city at the time. Here are some facts that you should know about the White Night Riots, one of the most violent protests in San Francisco history.

1. Dan White's trial will forever be known for the "Twinkie Defense."

During Dan White's trial, his legal team had to convince the jury that their client wasn't a cold-blooded killer but was instead a man suffering from diminished capacity due to ongoing bouts of depression. Among the evidence they used to illustrate that White wasn't in his right mind during the killings was the fact that he had recently given up his normally healthy lifestyle in favor of sugary junk food and soda. To give these claims credibility, the defense even called Dr. Martin Blinder, a psychiatrist, to the stand to talk about how, among other things, White's sudden intake of sweets was clearly a sign of a man depressed. (He also brought up White's strained marriage and unkempt beard.)

Reporters covering the trial would coin the term Twinkie defense to describe the unique strategy, but despite its outlandish nickname, it was enough to sway the jury after six days of deliberation. Today, "Twinkie defense" has been inscribed into law dictionary history as a derogatory label for an improbable legal defense. (Though, in reality, Twinkies weren't even brought up during the trial, and the killings were never blamed directly on junk food itself.)

2. The police openly supported Dan White's cause.

Dan White, the former police officer, turned himself in to an old friend down at the department just a couple of hours after the killings. Soon, members of the city's police and fire departments had helped raise over $100,000 for White's defense and many officers were seen openly wearing “Free Dan White” T-shirts in the weeks and months before the trial.

3. The White Night Riots started off as a peaceful march on Castro Street.

Many within the city's gay community were furious when the verdict was announced, and that night, a crowd of people spontaneously gathered in San Francisco’s Castro District to begin a nonviolent protest march. Gay and lesbian activists raised their fists and led the way, chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the district. Originally, 500 people began the march, but that number would soon balloon to 1500 as the crowd moved through the city.

4. Famous activists spoke at the protest, including Cleve Jones and feminist Amber Hollibaugh.

Harvey Milk’s friend, Cleve Jones, spoke to a crowd on Castro Street through Milk's own bullhorn. He angrily denounced White's conviction, saying, “I saw what those bullets did. It was not manslaughter, it was murder.”

When the marchers reached City Hall, feminist and lesbian activist Amber Hollibaugh climbed onto the railing and gave a speech in front of the ever-growing crowd. She yelled, “It’s time we stood up for each other. That’s what Harvey meant to us. He wasn’t some big leader. He was one of us. I don’t think it’s wrong for us to feel like we do. I think we should feel like it more often!”

In the years after the protests, Jones and Hollibaugh would continue to be vocal activists in the LGBTQ community. In 1987, Jones became one of the creators of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, a handmade quilt made up of more than 50,000 panels that commemorate the lives of over 105,000 people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses. It remains the world’s largest community folk art project. And Hollibaugh went on to establish Queer Suvival Economics (QSE) in 2014, a project that addresses the intersection of sexuality, poverty, homelessness, labor, and the criminalization of survival.

5. Chaos broke out once the crowd reached City Hall.

By the time the demonstrators had reached City Hall, they had attracted a crowd of 5000, and the peaceful march soon evolved into a full-fledged riot. Grieving and angry protesters broke the windows and bars of City Hall, set police cars on fire, pelted the cops with rocks, and ripped parking meters off the sidewalks, leaving 59 officers and 124 protestors injured in three hours. The White Night Riots remains one of San Francisco’s most violent protests, and one estimate put the cost of the damage at $1 million.

6. Some police officers covered their badges with black tape during the riots.

When police arrived on the scene, they were ordered to hold the crowd back. However, many officers began assaulting the demonstrators with night sticks, with some even covering their badges with black tape during the chaos. Protesters tore off tree branches to use them as protection against the police who were armed with clubs and riot shields. After three violent hours, the police used tear gas to stop the protestors. Later, the FBI investigated the police’s use of force but no officers were ever reprimanded.

7. Rogue police officers retaliated by raiding The Castro District, San Francisco’s “Gay Mecca.”

The Elephant Walk, one of Harvey Milk's favorite bars in San Francisco's Castro District, was one of the many landmarks damaged during the White Night Riots. In 1995, it was fittingly renamed Harvey's in Milk's honor.jondoeforty1, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

After the destruction at City Hall, some rogue police officers headed to The Castro District, an area known for its large gay community. Harvey Milk was an admired public figure throughout the district and was even nicknamed “the Mayor of Castro Street.” One of his favorite haunts was the Elephant Walk bar, a safe space for people otherwise unwelcome in straight bars.

During the White Night Riots, a crowd of people dashed into the bar for shelter, but the police stormed in and demolished the property. Officers clubbed and injured the people inside, crashed bar stools, and broke windows while shouting anti-gay slurs. When former police inspector Jack Webb questioned why officers were pouring into the Castro when it had been quiet and nonviolent, the police captain allegedly responded, “We lost the battle at City Hall. We aren’t going to lose this one.”

In 1995, 16 years after the riots, and after surviving a fire that almost destroyed the entire building in 1988, the Elephant Walk bar reopened under a new name: Harvey’s. You can still find it at 500 Castro Street.

8. Flyers were plastered all over Castro Street warning protestors from speaking out.

Days after the riots, flyers appeared around the Castro, warning neighbors to keep quiet in fear of persecution by the law. The flyers read, “Our defense against the police is each other, our strength is our silence.” The ongoing distrust in the gay community ran so deep that the flyers even discouraged people from cooperating with law enforcement looking for information about the Elephant Walk attack.

9. The day after the White Night Riots would have been Harvey Milk's 49th birthday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The day after the riots, May 22, would have been Harvey Milk’s birthday, and an estimated 20,000 San Franciscans peacefully gathered to celebrate and honor his legacy. This event had been organized months prior to the riots, but in light of the protests, the organizers came prepared with community “gay monitors” who wore shirts with “PLEASE! No violence” printed on them. The community policed themselves as Mayor Dianne Feinstein ordered police not to enter the immediate area. The “noisy and sometimes drunken” celebration of Milk's life was a complete turnaround from the night before. “Last night, gay men and lesbian women showed the world we’re angry and on the move,” Cleve Jones said at the gathering. "Tonight, we are going to show them that we are building a strong community.”

10. The 2008 movie based on Harvey Milk's life and assassination omitted all mention of the White Night Riots.

Directed by Gus Van Sant, the biographical film Milk details the life of Harvey Milk, focusing on his rising political career as a gay rights trailblazer. But the film comes to an abrupt end when Dan White shoots Milk and Mayor Moscone, with a closing shot of a candlelight vigil across San Francisco. The film’s omission of the violence that wracked the city on May 21 also omits Harvey Milk’s legacy that sparked an aggressive fight for gay rights on the West Coast. In 2017, however, Van Sant did wind up recreating the riots as a producer on the miniseries When We Rise, which chronicles the major events in recent LGBT history.