Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

December 24, 2012

Caskey and the inception of the Cheer Fund

Pat Smith
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — I have seen the ad in the Greensburg Daily News for the Optimist Avenue of Flags project.

The proceeds from the program really do go to benefit the local youth and community. No, I am not an Optimist and have no reason to mention it except that it does makes me feel proud when I see my husband’s flag in the line of American flags on the square come Memorial Day, Flag Day, July 4th, Labor Day, 9/11 and on Veteran’s Day.

At first, I had the Optimists put the flag in the front yard, but after I saw the rows of flags on the square it seemed to me that my husband’s flag would look mighty good included in one of those rows. I think he would like it too. Our trees were nearly hiding it anyhow. If my math is correct, I believe the $30 it takes to subscribe to the Avenue of Flags for a whole year comes to about nine cents a day. It does make your heart swell a bit to see the flags all lined up and know that one of them is for a loved one.

I read all of the notices about the Cheer Fund that was started by James E. Caskey who owned the Greensburg Daily News from 1902 until his death in 1915. Some years ago, probably in 1997 or 1998, William Ralph Caskey came to Greensburg and I invited him and Van Batterton to my home. William was 91 and Van was 84. William’s son Bill and I just sat back and listened to the two older men talk about the Decatur County they knew as boys. It was a marvelous afternoon.

James E. Caskey started the Daily News Cheer Fund in 1911, and the fund has been going strong since then except for two years during World War II. Imagine, even during the Great Depression people found a few dollars to help others. James E. served as Washington Township Trustee when the trustees had control of the schools. William said that his Dad gave Mabel Kercheval her first teaching job and they married a few years later. Mabel was of the same family as the first “Dallas” actor, Ken Kercheval. William said after his father died in 1915, his mother ran the paper until she sold it to L. D. Braden and Ed. Hancock in 1918.

At the time William was here, he lived in Carmel. He graduated from Greensburg High School in 1924 and went to DePauw University. He said that although he wrote a little for the Indianapolis Star, he was in the insurance business for almost all of his career. He got bored after he retired so he ran for, and won, the job of Carmel assessor. He served until 1987.

William said that when he was a boy, the firemen would put him up on the fire engine and let him turn up the pump to water the tree on the Courthouse Tower. He said they did that every so often when there was a dry spell. He remembered, because his father loved cigars, the Erdmann Cigar Factory on the East side of the square. He also remembered the Cinch Club that his father belonged to which met at the Greeks Candy Kitchen (later Cosmos and even later Gemmills) that was on the Northeast corner of the square across from the Presbyterian Church where the law office is now.

William’s son was also named William but called “Bill.” He was with his Dad the day he came back to Greensburg.

I always read Alice Woodhull’s column and pay special attention to the recipes she includes it. Last week, she had one in for “fudge pudding cake,” that seems so easy to do that I might just be able to follow the directions. I intend to try it and eat every bit of it because, as of Jan. 1, 2013, I intend to absolutely stop eating sweets. First though, I’ve just got to make that fudge pudding cake, and then eat it. Yeah!

During the Election this year, I asked Dr. Calvin Davis, author, historian and retired history professor at Duke University, to tell me about some of the elections he remembers and some he believes to be the most important in the history of our country. I fully intended to tell you what he said before the election but I was so tired of the Presidential election shenanigans this year that I figured you might be too. Soon though, I will share with you what he said.

Have a safe New Year’s Eve.