The Hoosierist: ‘Til The Casket Drops

Q: I’m guessing that most haunted houses are closed this year. Are there any spooky attractions that are virtual?

A: Yes, even though haunted-house employees are almost always masked, this probably isn’t the year to let them paw at and breathe on you. But Indiana does offer a plague-proof alternative. In case you haven’t heard, Evansville’s Willard Library has a ghost problem. Since the 1930s, a specter named the Lady in Grey has prowled the century-old building. She has supposedly appeared to staff, moved books, and touched people. A few years ago, someone placed webcams around the building and started livestreaming 24/7. This might not sound creepy, but peering at the dark, empty rooms provides a uniquely unsettling experience. Especially if you prime yourself by perusing the gallery of things other people saw. Party poopers might say they look like mundane audiovisual distortions, but why ruin a good Halloween fear buzz?

Q: Breaking Away is my favorite Indiana sports movie, and I know they made a TV show out of it. Where can I stream the episodes?

A: To answer this question, The Hoosierist spent hours sifting through the offerings of numerous TV streaming services. Which wasn’t much of a hardship, since he already does that every evening anyway. Unfortunately, it appears that the short-lived Breaking Away series, which aired just seven episodes on ABC in 1980 before pedaling off into oblivion, isn’t available via streaming. But before you become as discouraged and beaten-down as a townie at an IU frat party, check out YouTube, where you’ll find several installments. Although they look like they were recorded on VHS and then uploaded by an AV-club kid, they’re still pretty entertaining. The show even starred Shaun Cassidy—a name that will resonate with people old enough to grasp the aforementioned references to VHS and AV kids.

Q: I hear Indiana dominates the casket-making industry. Why?

A: According to Timothy Murphy of the Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America (headquartered in Indy), the Hoosier State earned this distinction in the 19th century, when our hardwood forests created lots of woodworking shops. Those craftsmen made pretty much everything, which meant they sold caskets alongside cupboards. After a century of consolidation, Indiana still lords over the industry. North America’s two largest manufacturers, Batesville Casket Company and Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions, call the state home. Add in “boutique” outfits such as C.J. Boots Casket Company (handmade, high-end people boxes) and Abbey Caskets (overseen by Catholic monks), and you have quite a lively trade.

Have Indiana-related questions? Send them to