Friday, August 03, 2012
Back Home Again in Indiana: Grant County and James Dean
After Indianapolis, the next stop on my Indiana itinerary was Fairmount, located in Grant County. Other than the cars and the stoplights, downtown Fairmount looks as if it's stuck in a time warp. You could easily feel as if you were on Main Street of any small city back in the day.
A vintage wall ad for Gold Medal Flour:
The former Carter's Motors Indian Motorcycle shop where James Dean got his first motorcycle at the age of 15.
Here Dean is shown at his Uncle Marcus' farm in the neighboring town of Jonesboro. He had returned one last time to Indiana, just before he exploded on the silver screen in his debut starring role in "East of Eden."
The photo caption for the next photo says:
Jimmy returns briefly to visit his family in Fairmount again. He particularly enjoys playing with his little cousin "Markie."
The farm can be seen in the odd documentary, "The James Dean Story," which was created by Robert Altman after Dean's tragic death. The farm still looks very much like it did back in 1955, and his little cousin "Markie" (now Mark/Marcus!) lives there with his family:
The brown grass shows the drought that the area has been suffering:
Down the street is the Quaker church where Dean and his family worshipped:
and where he is buried:
Back in the middle of the town is a recently dedicated little park with a replica of the Kenneth Kendall bust that can also be found at Griffith Park in Hollywood:
This cool piece of outdoor wall art was made out of denim jeans:
In the Fairmount Historical Museum, you can find a number of Dean items:
like this shirt that you can see him wearing in the Sanford Roth photo on the left-hand side of this shot:
The museum also has one of my paintings, based on a scene from "Rebel Without a Cause."
One of my very favorite moments in Fairmount was to hear actor Frank Mazzola (who played a gang member, Crunch, in the movie) discuss Dean's inspiration for this scene where he yelled, "I've got the bullets!" Here's Mazzola at the 1996 dedication of the James Dean bust, with artist/sculptor Kenneth Kendall seated at left:
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