If there’s a weird story in Indiana, you can count on Dick Wolfsie to track it down.
In early 2001, Wolfsie wrote Indiana Curiosities, a book of 300- to 500-word stories about odd people, places and things in our state. Now he’s back with an updated version that contains more than 75 new stories.
Or, as Wolfsie puts it, “The new book is 25 percent thicker.”
In the updated Indiana Curiosities (Globe Pequot Press, $13.95), you can read about the underwater pumpkin-carving contest in Muncie (you must wear scuba gear to participate), the Southside Indianapolis fire-extinguisher museum and the Monon Connection Museum in Monon, a train museum that contains, among other things, a completely furnished, full-size replica of an Illinois Central depot.
If those aren’t curious enough for you, how about the guy in Ellettsville who built a pneumatic pumpkin launcher?
“He loads the pumpkin like a cannon and it goes 1,300 miles an hour,” says Wolfsie, who’s best known for his feature stories on the WISH (Channel 8) morning news. “He put one right through a car door. I love my last line in the story: ‘Jim is not really obsessed with shooting pumpkins. He has other interests. In the summer, he shoots watermelons.’”
Then there’s the story Wolfsie stumbled upon in Bedford. He was driving through town and noticed eight to 10 huge letters to the editor written on cardboard and posted on the lawn outside a house.
“So I knocked on the guy’s door,” Wolfsie says, “and apparently, this is the town curmudgeon and the editor won’t print his letters anymore. So he writes them on huge sheets of cardboard and posts them on his front lawn.”
Wolfsie will be signing books at the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show Nov. 8-12 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 at Big Hat Books in Broad Ripple. He makes it clear to people who are buying the new version that this one has a lot of new material. And some notable updates.
You may recall a story from the original book about the guy in Alexandria who had put 14,000 coats of paint on a baseball. The updated Indiana Curiosities has a photo — taken two hours before the book went to press — of Wolfsie putting on the 20,000th coat.
So when anyone asks Wolfsie how long it’s been since the original book, he has a ready answer: “Six thousand coats of paint.”