Friday, June 21, 2013

Hoosier Boys’ State

Fifty-one years ago this week, I was on the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington, participating in the American Legion’s Hoosier Boys’ State program.

hoosier boys stateBoys’ State is a week-long seminar on government for boys from virtually every high school in Indiana. Delegates, who are between their junior and senior years, are chosen on the basis of academic standing. Delphi High School was allotted three delegates and I attended, along with Ed Cook and Jack Klepinger.

Delegates are assigned to one of two political parties – Nationalists and Federalists – and run for various city, county and state offices. I don’t remember which party I belonged to, but I was the unsuccessful candidate for coroner of Brunton County (HBS county names do not correspond with real Indiana county names).

I still have my name tag and my HBS t-shirt is somewhere in an under-bed storage bin.

The guys who were serious about their political ambitions, I discovered, had done extensive preparation and alliance-building. The rest of us just showed up.

The program was launched at Butler University in 1937, was at the Indiana State Fairgrounds from 1938-41, the Indiana State School for the Deaf from 1942-55 (except for 1945 when it was suspended because of WWII), I.U. from ‘56-‘68, Indiana State University from ‘69-2008 and at Trine State University in Angola since 2009.

The top office is governor and a kid named Mike Valentine from Warsaw won it when I was there in 1962. Mike went on to practice law in his hometown.

Looking back at the list of HBS governors since the program’s inception in 1937, I don’t recognize any of the names, so the HBS governorship hasn’t proven to be a stepping stone to fame.

That said, HBS alumni include Purdue University President and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a bunch of congressmen and senators, a former astronaut and Brian Lamb, president and founder of C-Span. And my brother-in-law Kerstan.

And me.

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