Continuing with life in Hamilton County during the Bicentennial year of 1976 (as told to the Noblesville Kiwanis Club by Judge Meade Vestal in 1940!) . . .
Last week I covered some of the judge's less-than-accurate predictions. He made other guesses about the future, however, and some of those were either right on target or came unbelievably close.
For example, the judge spoke of an artificial lake called "Lake Hamilton" having been created north of the Nickel Plate Railroad bridge and east of Forest Park (the general area along State Road 19 that floods whenever we get a heavy rain.)
"Motor boats, boat houses and race courses are planned and the lake side will soon be dotted by amusement resorts and cottages."
While I wouldn't call the homes in the Harbors "cottages," doesn't that sound an awful lot like Morse Reservoir? Judge Vestal, probably thinking of the recreational area that already existed at that time at Riverwood, just placed his dam on White River instead of on Cicero Creek.
Another prediction: "Our Market Place was established some years ago so that farmers and gardeners may sell produce to the inhabitants and so our merchants in turn may now sell their stock in trade to them."
Wouldn't you say that's a fair description of our present-day Farmer's Market?
In several places the judge mentioned the "war with Japan" and once he stated that "Old citizens recall the bombing of the Second World War."
Keep in mind that he was addressing the Kiwanis Club on September 25, 1940 - two days before Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, and over a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor! While it's true relations between the United States and Japan weren't good even then and some people may have believed war was inevitable, I still got a chill when I read that.
The judge praised the national festivities held to mark "our two hundredth Anniversary Celebration" (the Bicentennial) and expressed the hope that the "United States of Europe," which had been established a few years earlier, would endure as long our country had.
Was he foreseeing the European Union?
Then there was this prediction: "Wireless telephones are in general use. We have had some difficulty in convincing our young local reporter that we formerly had tall poles and wires strung all over town."
He may have been just a little ahead of the times for 1976, but cell phones weren't that far off.
The judge also predicted an increase in local business thanks to "the patronage of owners of the magnificent homes along Roads 13 and 32 . . . The vast wealth of Indianapolis millionaires who occupy country homes in this county has marvelously increased our trade. They prefer to trade in Noblesville."
Hmmm. Indianapolis millionaires moving north into Hamilton County. Sound familiar?
(In Judge Vestal's day Allisonville Road was State Road 13. It later became State Road 37 and even later was known as 37A after the current State Road 37 was constructed.)
The judge closed his address by announcing that the next president, the man who would take office the following January (in "1977,") had been born in Hamilton County. This person, "barely old enough to become President of the United States," was described as the son of a Hamilton County farmer, someone who could trace his ancestry back to this county's pioneers.
I'm afraid we'll never know who Judge Vestal had in mind because he declined to identify the man. The judge's final words to the Kiwanis members were, "Name him. Guess."
Oh well, his predictions weren't going too badly until then.
Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at email@example.com