Ruler Foods

Jasper and vicinity (127).JPGWhen I travel I always like to check out the local grocery store. I’m usually replenishing supplies – normally fresh fruit or bottled water – so I have an excuse to cruise through.

Have you been to a Ruler Foods? I just found this picture mixed in with some others from Jasper, Indiana. Ruler is owned by Kroger and is basically the Kroger Company’s answer to Aldi. It’s arranged warehouse style, you rent your cart for a quarter and the prices are lower. It was a nice store and I sort of wished there was one in my area.

I don’t know why grocery stores interest me so much but they do. Is there something mundane that you always do or look for in your travels? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

The Year In Pictures (Proof That It Does Get Better)

When the year began, this is is what I was photographing.

As you can probably see, my mood was dark and brooding. I spent hours stomping around in the cold and looking for anything I could find to occupy my mind and camera. My world was quite small too. My adventures took me around my own property and local state parks but not much further. Life was quiet and introspective. It was intensely focused on self betterment and on finding beauty despite the starkness and darkness that seemed to envelope my world both inside and out.

If you’ve been following this blog you know I’ve come a long way since January. In fact, I’ve come a long way since starting this blog over the summer. And I am thankful for that.

This has turned out to be a very good year. A beautiful year, actually. I’ve had so many adventures as well as time with friends and family and have learned a lot.  I’ve traveled near and far, spent countless hours relaxing on the back porch and met some special people along the way.

I still do some black and whites but have come to enjoy more playing with color and light. In fact, most of my recent black and whites exist because the color or light is poor but the conversion salvages the picture. Here’s what I’ve been photographing lately.

My eye reaches for happier things… I call this photographic proof that it does get better.

48416903_10209755131673433_8729230697920724992_nMy life isn’t what I thought it would be a year ago but that’s ok because it has turned out to be great anyway.  In fact, looking back on last January, it’s leaps and bounds more than I could have asked for or imagined.

I am cautiously optimistic that 2019 is going to be even better and I look forward to seeing what life has in store. I’m certain something special is around the next corner.

Happy New Year, my friends. Make 2019 amazing!

Stepping Back With Sturm Hardware

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It’s no secret that I’m a history buff and sort of a nerd when it comes to exploring towns and seeking out special places with interesting stories. My little nerd heart was pretty happy when I found my way into Sturm’s Hardware in downtown Jasper, Indiana.

This place is like a time capsule.

In fact, it reminds me of a couple of places that captured my imagination when I was a child. Fout’s Store, near where I live, was a country store with a big old stove and bulk candy during the holidays. The light streaming through the large windows, the old wood floors and the nice old couple who ran it gave the impression you were literally stepping back a century simply by walking through those old front doors. What I wouldn’t give to go back there again, even just for a moment.

The lady pictured above is named Sharon. Her grandfather opened this store as LH Sturm Hardware in 1895. He died when she was small but she has some memories of him. She also remembers walking to the hardware from the time she was very small and spending many hours there.

The store is one of the oldest hardwares in Indiana and has been continuously operated by Sharon’s family since her grandfather opened the doors.

Her family has left it pretty much the same as it has been since the very beginning. They still use original fixtures to display things like window screen and hand tools. The wooden shelves and display cases are lined with new old stock in the original boxes. The only real changes are the addition of some tables to hold more modern merchandise such as Lodge cast iron pans, beer and wine making supplies and lots of little kitchen gadgets.

I purchased a cute little egg timer and some new floral garden gloves.

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They display some old toys and advertising pieces that are original to the store, some of the items coming from the attic many years ago. They even have an old butter churn.

There’s a handmade display piece that holds a variety of old light bulbs and an enormous stove in the middle of everything. It’s no longer in use but Sharon talked about how men in the community used to pull up a chair around the stove and discuss the price of corn and the problems of the world.

Jasper (46)She was a delightful hostess and a big help to local customers who came in the store needing help with their Saturday morning projects. It’s the kind of place where you can walk in holding a bolt and ask to buy two more like it. With a little digging she can find what you need and sell you the amount you need. None of this buying in bulk!

I really loved it there and hated to leave but feared she would think me suspicious if I stayed too long. Ha ha.

So I left. Sort of regrettably. But with that wonderful warm feeling you get when you know you’ve met someone truly special and witnessed something that not everyone gets to see. It felt like I had been transported into another century when I entered that screen door and like I was pulled back to the present with the harsh light of that October day.

Visit them online if you wish to know more about Sturm Hardware. See below for some pictures.

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The Astra Theater

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Little makes my heart happier than seeing historic sites brought back from the brink of ruin. Such is the case at the Astra Theater in Jasper, Indiana. I had never heard of Jasper or the Astra until perusing the tour schedule for Pokey Lafarge several months ago but I’m so glad I found it.

The Astra was shuttered in 2002 and only just reopened this past April.  Tucked into a small corner of Jasper’s town square, this building would be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But it has a great sign that looks amazing at night and the town is so enthusiastic about their theater. People are proud to have it back, proud to usher, proud to serve on the board, thrilled to know that an out-of-towner came to see a show.

Opened in April 1936, the building originally had a neat art deco vibe. They were able to salvage some details like the original lobby ticket booth and colorful lights inside the theater. They extended the stage and stripped the walls down to beautiful exposed brick. It feels both old and modern at the same time.

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The space feels intimate and it’s just a fun place to see a show. It’s a little far for me to go all the time but certainly a theater I would visit again for the right act. I’ll tell you more about the town of Jasper another day. Here’s another look at this outside, this time with me mugging for the camera!

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PS: A duo called The Honey Vines opened for Pokey and they are beautiful singer songwriters. So glad I got to hear them too!