Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

May 7, 2013

Historic bar and World War II slave labor

Greensburg — You may remember Tom Keating, who for several years wrote an Indianapolis Star column.

Keating died in 1985 at age 45, but his legacy lives in the annual Thomas R. Keating Feature Writer Program award sponsored by the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation.

Butch Kennedy, subject of last week’s column, has a Keating column hanging in his museum at Smith’s Crossing. Actually it’s in the bar. Keating started the column: “One hundred and 20 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln spent part of his 52nd birthday in Indianapolis trying to avoid the Indiana legislature.”

He continued the column by explaining that Lincoln had just been elected President and was en-route from Springfield to Washington.

He tells how Lincoln was greeted in Indianapolis, being the head of the parade through downtown Indianapolis and ended at the Bates House – “a hotel located on the north side of Washington Street, just west of Illinois street.”

Lincoln spoke from a Bates House balcony and attended a reception in the Bates House drawing rooms. Lincoln stood at a bar and imbibed a little - it was his birthday after all.

Now where do you think that bar is today? It is right here in Decatur County in Butch Kennedy’s museum. Butch told me of the way the bar got to his museum, but I was much too interested in seeing one of Keating’s columns again and looking over this marvelous old bar to take the proper notes. If you go see the memorabilia that Butch has collected over the years he’ll tell you all about the old bar, and you may even feel the awe that I felt while standing there.

The Bates House location later became the Claypool Hotel built in 1903 with financial help from Connersville’s Edward Claypool. The balcony from which Lincoln spoke was purchased by an Indianapolis family and attached to their home. I saw the balcony just a couple of weeks ago but that’s another story and column.

Keating finished his column, “Lincoln boarded his train and left for his next stop, Cincinnati.” You and I know, thanks to Decatur County’s Dr. Calvin Davis, that Lincoln stopped in Greensburg on his way to Cincinnati. Keating ended his column, “Indianapolis residents would not see Lincoln alive again. On April 30, 1865, his funeral train stopped in Indianapolis on its way to Springfield. Lincoln’s body was placed in the Indiana State Capitol Building from 8 a.m. to midnight on a gloomy Sunday.”

Now for something else that Butch Kennedy did recently. He let it be known that he had just met the most amazing person. He tells of meeting Gustav Potthoff, a survivor of the World War II Japanese slave labor camps. He was able to take some excellent pictures of Potthoff who helped build the notorious Bridge over the River Kwai.

Butch said that he met the veteran and volunteer at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum in Columbus.  He learned the day that he was there that 200,000 men died while building the ‘Hell Fire’ road dug totally by the hands of the slaves. He said, “This guy (Potthoff) is awesome. He is 90-plus years old and still has a very clear mind.

He was born the son of a World War I German soldier and an Indonesian woman. He has quite a story to tell, well worth the trip to see him.”

Kennedy said that Potthoff paints with a sponge. “You can see the anguish in his paintings and he talked of how he would like to find the grave of his Australian friend he buried in the jungle.” The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum has some of his work there.

The volunteers of the museum raised funds to make the film “Lest We Forget,” based on Potthoff’s life as a World War II slave labor camp survivor.

The film tries to honor the POW’s that worked and died alongside him on the Burma-Thailand “Death Railway” and the “Bridge over the River Kwai.”

I remember seeing Gustav Potthoff on one of WFYI television programs. As he said, “Life is pretty when you are free.” He does see beauty now. He has become quite a good artist. Although every day is a good day to honor our veterans, this is a time of year that we try to acknowledge and demonstrate our appreciation for our veterans who have assured our freedom.  They are a firm reminder of what every veteran knows well, that freedom isn’t free.

Thanks to Vietnam veteran Butch Kennedy for this and last week’s columns.

Note: Today is Taussie’s second birthday but she’s happy to put her column off until June.

— Daily News

1
Text Only
Columns
  • Protecting Indiana's agricultural heritage With the 4-H fairs in full swing, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about agriculture. Since Indiana became a state back in 1816, agriculture has played a vital role in our livelihood. For those who are not from Indiana, our state is practica

    July 22, 2014

  • Improving Indiana's infrastructure It is always a happy time when my family visits, especially to celebrate a wedding. I recently played hostess for my niece and her wedding party when she was looking for somewhere to hold her rehearsal dinner. I absolutely enjoy when family comes to

    July 22, 2014

  • Shining a light on the Federal Reserve If you are like most Americans, you probably have heard of the Federal Reserve. But, you may not know much about what the Fed actually does or the very real ways its decisions impact your day-to-day life. The Federal Reserve was founded by Congress i

    July 22, 2014

  • Expiring term heightens the urgency of lawmaker's mission INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrant

    July 22, 2014

  • fea-gb072214 Spaulding column jpg Spaulding Outdoors: The inside on Indiana's outside Free beginner waterfowl hunting workshopsTwo free waterfowl hunting workshops for beginners will be offered in August and September by the Department of Natural Resources. The focus of the workshops is on hunting Canada geese, although there will be

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thankful for our veterans' sacrifice On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, giving birth to a new nation. To Great Britain and the rest of the world, the U.S. proclaimed itself the proud home of free people. Since that day, on more than one occasion, this freedom h

    July 17, 2014

  • Please go away My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven’t caught up. I don’t have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 17, 2014

  • Pat Smith: Undiscovered treasures in the home Last week I wrote about finding a certificate showing that my husband had purchased 15 shares of the “Souvenir Stock of Greensburg Community Centennial, Inc held in 1959. What I found nearby was even more intriguing; at least, it was to me. It is a v

    July 16, 2014

  • What's in the attic? Shoes! Shoes reflect our personality, our fashion sense, our role in society and our mood on any given day. Without a word they say, soccer mom, corporate executive, medical technician or going nowhere, doin’ nothing’. Last year in the US more than 350 mill

    July 16, 2014

  • Road to funding Indiana highways jammed INDIANAPOLIS – If you’ve driven on either of Indiana’s two busiest interstates recently, you’ll understand why a blue-ribbon commission last week called for adding traffic lanes to those harrowing highways.The report, issued by the Governor’s Blue Ri

    July 15, 2014

Featured Ads
AP Video
Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.