The Milan Miracle of ‘54 | Milan, IN

The Milan ‘54 team is what movies are made of, and it’s true, because the movie “Hoosiers” was based on the team’s miraculous 1954 state championship win - a ‘David and Goliath story’ where a small town basketball team who, against the odds, beat the big town team and won the state championship.

​This photograph was taken during the dedication of the newly painted Milan water tower. The group members are: (l-r) cheerleader Patricia Marshall, Mary Lou Wood (widow of Coach Marvin Wood), Ray Craft, Roger Schroder, Rollin Cutter, Glen Butte, Gene White and Bobby Plump.

​When asked to have a photo taken of just the Milan ‘54 players, a few of them chimed in and said, “We do everything as a team.”


Debi Black | Batesville, IN

“One of the things that drew me to painting was creating art that mimics God’s creation. I would hope that someone would realize that connection; that I was just doing a personal version of God’s great creation when I try to create his images that he put before me in nature. The world is so beautiful. I just hope what I recreate shares the beauty someday for someone who will look back. Like now, I think about as we were going through the bicentennial time period, I’m thinking 200 years ago there were no houses, just dense forest. I thought about the people that forged through that, the courage they had to have, and if they were to see the world now, it would not look anything like it was then. So I hope that my paintings would someday show this time and this era for the next generation, so they can see every moment in history that God has created in the environment to help men along the way.

​I feel like God gifted me with the ability to do this. Somehow I would be giving less of myself if I didn’t share what He gave me as a gift.”


Paul Morris + Karla Shelpman | Holton, IN

Paul Morris was the brainchild behind Paulhenge, a historical landmark in Ripley County. 

Built in 2015, Paulhenge is a replica of Stonehenge, but is constructed of locally quarried limestone, which were used in the 1800’s before the wide use of cement. Paul collected these well tops over the years to keep them from being destroyed. Paulhenge is laid out to align perfectly with the angle of sunlight on the solstice and equinox - a stone was set toward the four cardinal directions and a stone was set for each solstice sunrise and sunset, making a total of eight stones surrounding the ‘Mother Stone’. All structures were disassembled, moved and later reconstructed by Paul Morris and several local craftsmen.

“I believe it is the largest and only limestone well top display in the world.”

​Why did you do it? 

“Why not?”

​Karla

“Karla is very special to me. I dedicate Paulhenge to her, for her support and love to me.”


Mike Stratton | Versailles, IN

“I’ve been in the funeral business for 39 years. I graduated from the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in Indianapolis in 1979. I immediately came home here to Versailles after I graduated and I’ve been here since. I was working at Bovard’s Funeral Home for 22 years before we started this facility in September 2002.

I actually wanted to be a school teacher. That was the only thing I wanted to do. For whatever reason, the Lord led me to a different direction. I was always fascinated with this line of work. I had an uncle who was in this funeral home business in town many years ago and I was used to being around it. I guess it piqued my curiosity, if nothing else, but it’s like a ministry to me as we deal with a lot of people, and I like that. There’s the embalming part of it which deals with the person that passed away but more importantly, I am dealing with families that need some guidance. The whole facet of it is a combination of art and science.

It piqued my interest when I was in high school. I got to see some embalming taken place and that part never bothered me, though I know some people may see it as gory. I don’t say this braggingly, it just never did - it wasn’t something that made me run out of the room screaming. So I thought if I could get past that part, the rest of it is gonna be easy. And it was. It was something I felt the Lord laid in me to do. As I said, it is a form of ministry and I’m trying to help people. 

The hardest part though was coming back home because I had to bury my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends but on the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be some place where I didn’t know anybody. It was good to be home where I could help people whom I knew. That was important to me because I know them, probably knew their grandparents and great grandparents. Now I am getting into funerals of the third or fourth generation of families since I started. So it’s a tradition and I like that.

I’m emotionally attached to these people too because I’ve known them for so long and therefore I could feel a little of the pain these people are going through in that loss because I’ve known that individual too. When I understand their pain, I appreciate their pain and it helps me help them better.”


How I Created The Versailles Mural Project Artwork


Last fall, I was honored to be commissioned by Amy Streator from Ripley County Community Foundation (RCCF) to create an artwork featuring the murals in Versailles, Indiana.

The art was to be featured in the main wall of the entrance to the RCCF office.

The mural was a dedication to the Versailles Bicentennial Celebration in 2018. The unveiling was the start of the annual Pumpkin Show and was designed by native Hoosier artist Andrea Grimsley. Over 150 local residents helped her paint the mural making it a deep part of the Versailles experience and an iconic part of the town’s culture.

A lot of planning went into the idea for the photograph. Some good ideas had to be tossed due to weather and other considerations, but I had a vision of the art as something both real, and ethereal enough to evoke a sense of wonder when viewed. And my mentor, Donald Giannatti, always tell his mentees to always try to create something people have not seen before.

I began with a very clean shot of the murals from across the street. Of course I then had to clean up the road, the sidewalk, remove signs, cars, and other things a city wall accumulates over the years.

Once the image was cleaned up an idea popped into my head about using a vintage car parked in front of the murals to give the image a bit more romantic appeal. The idea may have come because of all the vintage car shows that happen in that part of town, but whatever inspired me I had to then find the right car.

Going through stock images I found a vintage Jaguar that looked really great against the wall and the murals. But something kept nagging me about it. The color was a green that matched the mural but there was something missing.

Vintage Jaguar by Karla Alexander (Unsplash)

My husband looked it over and said it should be an American vintage car. After careful consideration, I had to admit he was right and off I went to find an American vintage vehicle.

I found a perfect shot of a Mustang convertible, 1967 vintage. It was yellow. I researched the car colors available for 1967 Mustangs and found they came in pink that year as well. I knew the all-women staff of RCCF would love the pink Mustang, so the decision was made.

Vintage Jaguar by Cedric Brule (Unsplash)

I added the car, changed it to correct Mustang pink, and made a few artistic changes to the surrounding architecture and the photo was completed.

It is hanging on the wall today (36” x 48”) and everyone loves it. I will be open to making prints and note cards of this artwork soon. Be sure to follow me on my Facebook page to get updates on this. 

Photo courtesy of Ripley County Community Foundation.

Lastly, be sure to check out my book, “Ripley 200: A Bicentennial Project” in my Store. I have limited quantities left. 



Leticia Foster | Holton, IN

“I came to Cincinnati in 1985 to study English for one semester, then I went back to Mexico City and came back to Cincinnati again in 1986 to start my MBA. My plan was to come to Cincinnati and then go back to Mexico City. I have a brother who lived in Cincinnati, so that was why I came to the city as well. Eventually, my brother and his family moved to California but I stayed on. 

I met my husband, William, at Xavier University. He was studying there for one semester as well. We have been married for 28 years now and we have 3 children.

We moved to Seymour after Cincinnati, but decided to later move to Versailles as William has family in Holton. We used to live in a house which is now the Crossroads Restaurant. It was my father in-law’s property and I believe it was he who built that lake at the back of the restaurant.”

How do you like living in Holton?

“I think it is a good place to grow my family compared to Cincinnati. Of course initially I missed the easy access to a lot of things, but once I have my children, I find it nice, more relaxing and definitely a better place to raise a family. I love that there is no traffic here, as compared to Mexico City. I love to see the blue sky everyday. I love the change in seasons; we don’t have that in Mexico. Spring and Fall are my favorites: spring when everything come alive, and fall when everything changes to get ready for winter. Best of all, I can see the stars and some of the planets like Venus on a cloudless night sky.”


Kelsey Harris (Martin) | Delaware, IN

“My most memorable time in Ripley County was when I went to Versailles State Park. I loved to go camping there with my family. We did all sorts of things - we would kayak on the creek, hike the trails, and watch fireworks over the water. I would study for college classes by the dam. My most favorite moments there were wondering through the forest after Sunday church and reviewing notes from the sermon. I loved spending time with God in nature there. That park helped me connect with family, with God, and with nature. I would not have wanted a different childhood than that.

I have such fond memories of a town that came together and supported one another and turned me into the independent woman I am today.”

Kelsey is currently residing in Las Vegas with her husband, Kyle Harris. They were married recently on May 15. Let’s congratulate Kelsey & Kyle and wish them a lifetime of happiness together. 


Owen & Della Menchhofer | Allen Crossing, IN

Owen & Della, married for 39 years.

What does your spouse mean to you?

Della “Stability, security and adventure. We’re stable, pretty predictable in what we will be doing. Security - I am secure in where we live and in our finances. Adventure - sometimes I get the weekendoff, so I’d say, “Let’s go do something, I don’t know what!” One of these days, I want to fill the car with gas, put my luggage in and we’re gonna drive till we get halfway out of gas and turn around and come back. We like to do something at the spur of the moment.”

Owen“Her inside and outside beauty. Just a wonderful person; someone who puts up with me…sometimes I can be a bit difficult to deal with. We blend well.”

Secret to a successful marriage

Della “Give and take” 

Owen “Momma’s always right!” 

​Advice to newly weds

Della “Firstly, find a church family and become involved in a church family. You have to have that faith to get through the good times and the bad times.”

Owen “Life is a three-legged stool. You got to have your spouse and you gotta have God. You can’t survive being on a two-legged stool. And you gotta learn to give and take.”


Mary Ellen Ahlrich | Osgood, IN

Mary Ellen was the President of the Osgood Beautification Committee. “It’s nice to see the town as pretty as it is now. And we’re not done yet. When I first started, they didn’t have the flags and the banners and we got that going. We try to have seasonal banners, and of course we have the Indiana and American flags.” 

​”I am proud to be an Osgoodian. But you know, when I graduated from high school, I thought, ‘I’m getting out of this rinky-dink town.’ My brother lived in Lafayette, and had just got out of service and was going back to college. And my sister-in-law at that time said, ‘Why don’t you come to Lafayette and get a job.’ So I went to Lafayette. Eventually, that’s where I met my husband. We lived there for sometime, then moved to Dayton before heading back again. Then my dad passed away and I told my husband who was a typesetter, ‘At one time, they wanted you at Greensburg to work at the newspaper. Why don’t you see if you can get on there so you can get close to mom to help her out.’ So the newspaper took him on. We returned to Osgood and lived with mother until we built our own house.”


Jim Newhart | Napoleon, IN

Jim is a historical reenactor, demonstrating the role of a Private in the 32nd Indiana Infantry Regiment. He attended his first reenactment in 1993, and was hooked. Since 1994, he has put on the uniform, took to the field, marched out and started shooting. 

​”I’ve always been infatuated with the civil war. It was always my favorite time period in the country’s history. It’s strange, but I never get tired of studying about the civil war. I see a movie that comes out about it, and I’d go watch it or if I see a book, I’d want to read it. I also never get tired of “reliving” it.

​We, the fellow reenactors and I, would go to the local elementary schools and reenact for the 5th graders. We contribute to the school’s curriculum. We can tell the students dozens of facts about the civil war that never end up in their historical books. Even the teachers are flabbergasted by some of the stories we share.

​For the girls, I tell them the story about Albert Cashier, the woman who impersonated as a man to serve. Her real name is Jennie Hodgers, and she’s a top north private for the Union Army. All the school girls just get the best charge out of the Albert Cashier story. 

​We know for a fact that we’re giving something back to the next generation. Yes, it’s a hobby, but it gives me more pleasure than anything else in life. It’s true, I’d rather go reenacting than I would eat!”

Using Format