Putnam: swept up in a lull

Dateline: Tue 10 Oct 2006

Things have been a little slow out in Putnam County of late.

Two favorite business establishments recently went under: Brackney's Western Store, a family operation for more than 20 years, held its "no- reasonable-offer-refused" close-out sale last week. The store, sort of a hallmark on U.S. 231, hired out-of-state liquidators to unload merchandise at up to 70 percent discount -- tack, (that's horse gear for you city folk, anything from saddles to blankets), fancy boots, Carhart jackets, cowboy shirts, Pendleton blankets, even Brackney Family Cookbooks. Brackney's was the only place I ever saw where you could buy a sympathy card on the occasion of a horse's death. They had quite a selection, too.

The other failure that I take personally is Gathering Grounds, right on the square, Greencastle's only true coffee shop (internet access, poetry nights, live music, vegetarian food and a crew of regulars). GG was run by a womderful woman who moved back to Indiana from California to provide gourmet coffee to the townspeople and DePauw University students. Her locale, right across from the Courthouse, was in an old J.C. Penny. She made it for 3 years before, rumor has it, the landlords wanted to jack up the lease price on her.

These two are the latest in a long line of restaurants and retails I've seen shutter since locating here in 2000. There's not much in town to show off to the tourists anymore, altho everyone seems excited by the farmer's market on weekends and an occasional flea market. And then we do have the Covered Bridge Festival coming up.

At least the crime isn't as bloody as Indianapolis, but it has its own special rural stamp. A woman recently pleaded guilty to failing to deliver on grave monuments ordered by grieving Putnam County residents. She got away with collecting nearly $20,000 from 2003 until she filed for bankruptcy.

Then there was the couple down the road towards Terre Haute and off U.S. 40 who were growing pot in their above-ground swimming pool. They thought they had a fail-safe method: let the weeds creep up along the pool's interior perimeter to conceal the dope. Oh, and the genius behind this scheme also placed boards with nails to deter theft.

And every few months, somebody gets busted up at "the farm," as locals call the Putnamville Corrections Facility, for sneaking pot inside the prison in a baby's diaper.

Sad. Life in Indiana.

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