Thursday, June 18, 2009

One for the history books:
A tale of baseball and peanut shells

By Kim Evans

Herald-Times Bloomington, Ind.
Community Columnist

June 18, 2009

I come from a family of Cincinnati Reds fans. There was a time when Southern Sporting Goods in downtown Bloomington was the local ticket outlet, and I remember going there with my mom and brother, wooden floor creaking beneath our feet, air scented with leather and cigars. The salesman would pull out a small map of Riverfront Stadium and Mom would pick the best available seats in our price range. These were the days before online ticket sales.

It was a real treat to attend games and watch Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and the rest of Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine of the mid-1970s, and I had the most fun when we were joined by my cousin Jeff and his family. Jeff and I were people-watchers more than game-watchers. There is one particular night I will always remember. It was chilly enough for sweatshirts. The stadium lights were smudged by the evening haze. Jeff was pointing out people in the crowd, drawing my attention to strange hairstyles and funny outfits. The scoreboard showed two chunky hands clapping in an effort to get the crowd to join in. Jeff and I bent our fingers at the knuckle to make our hands look chunky like those on the scoreboard. We grinned like clowns while we pretended to clap with exaggerated motion.

Mom had just returned from the concession stand with the classic baseball snack, unshelled peanuts. She passed the crinkly bag down the row to us. I pulled out a small handful and rested them in my lap. After I cracked the first one open, I wasn’t sure what to do with the shell. I noticed Mom was throwing hers on the ground, so I followed suit, enjoying this opportunity to be messy and carefree.

Then I noticed the man sitting directly in front of me, leaning forward in his seat, inadvertently exposing a big gap in the back of his jeans. I didn’t look too closely because I was embarrassed on his behalf. I quietly pointed this out to Jeff, and we looked at each other with our mouths wide open, silently hysterical. I glanced over at Mom again, and saw she had that familiar devilish look on her face. I watched her as she took aim and tossed a peanut shell directly into the man’s pants.

I felt my eyes widen as far as they would go as she repeated the ritual several times. I wondered if I could get way with this, too? I decided to give it a try. Bingo. My shell landed on top of the small stack that was accumulating. Then Jeff joined in and before long the back of the man’s pants was full of peanut shells. My stomach muscles hurt from stifling my laughter. I kept wondering what Mom would say if the man turned around to confront us. Would she defend us? Or were we on our own? I wondered what else I could get away with if I got away with this. I started questioning why I tried so hard to be good all the time when being nasty was so much more fun.

Suddenly, the man stood up. A few shells spilled out the back of his pants. I grabbed Jeff’s arm and squeezed. The man looked around, hiked up his jeans and exited the row. We never saw him again.

I don’t remember who won the baseball game that night, but the peanut shell story has become “one for the history books” in our family.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Community Column #1

Newspaper with an editorial page required for residence

By Kim Evans

Community columnist |


Hi, my name is Kim, and I’m a Bloomington rubber-bander. I’ve fulfilled the classic scenario for many townies like me: We grow up here, not fully appreciating all this community offers. In search of some perspective, we move away for awhile. That’s what I did; shortly after graduating with a psychology degree from IU, I seized the opportunity to relocate with my soon-to-be-husband. Thirteen years, one baby and a more marketable associate’s degree later, there was nothing more I wanted than to come back here.

We lived in a very small town for eight years. While the kindness of the people in this small town was unsurpassed, the lack of town leadership started to get to me after awhile. There was no organized forum for public conversation. I hungered for a local newspaper with an editorial page.

So, as I launch my stint as a community columnist, I’d like to get a few things off my chest by sharing a sampling of brief letters to the editor I would have written to my small town newspaper:

Dear Editor,

Is there anything that can be done about the “antique shop” across the street from my home? I am concerned that my property value is being adversely affected by this eyesore with unfinished plywood siding, old rusty bathtubs on the front lawn, two buildings crammed so full of junk no human could possibly walk through, not to mention the conservative talk radio blaring all afternoon. Isn’t there a local ordinance that at least requires finished siding on buildings? Thank you.

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to convey my shock that a policeman knocked on my front door today and asked to speak to my husband and me about a complaint that a toddler was running around our front yard. That naked toddler was my daughter playing outside on a hot summer day. Is there a law against a toddler playing naked in her own yard on a hot summer day? Thank you.

Dear Editor,

Is there any way our town can find a more effective way to corral the loose, aggressive dogs across the street? I fear they will attack my child (yes, the naked toddler) if we dare take a walk to the park. Just how effective is a town official walking the streets with a box of dog biscuits tucked under his arm? Didn’t Mayberry have its act together better than this? Thank you.

Dear Editor,

When will the “renovation” work be done to our town park? We previously enjoyed going there to swing and play, but now all the playground equipment has been ripped up and there are dangerous trenches in the ground, filled with green liquid. I haven’t seen anyone working on it for several weeks and would like to know what the master plan is. (Is there a master plan?) Thank you.

Dear Editor,

Is there any way that residents can be forewarned when the town plans to flush out the water system? On several occasions we’ve been shocked to suddenly have rusty red water flowing from our bathtub faucet as we prepare to give our child (yes, the criminally naked toddler) a bath. How hard would it be for officials to hang door tags about this? Thank you.

Dear Editor,

Why are chickens residing in the town limits? Don’t get me wrong, I love chickens, but I don’t live on a farm, and I don’t love being awakened by a rooster crow at 5 each morning. And the smell of chicken poop knocks me over every time I’m in the back half of my yard. Isn’t there an ordinance that addresses this issue? Thank you.

Ah, it’s good to be back in Bloomington. Life handed me the perspective I needed. Along the way, I discovered some of my bottom-lines: town ordinances, freedom for toddlers to play naked in their own yards, and a local newspaper with an editorial page. Everything else is gravy.

Kim Evans is a Bloomington native and IU graduate who “rubber-banded” back to town in 2005 to open her graphic design studio, raise her family and circle back to her writing. She can be reached at