January 22, 2018
  • 55.4 °F
  • Overcast

Committing to Memory

Robert Hartman proves a picture is worth a thousand words
Robert Hartman

Robert Hartman fought in the German Rhine Valley during World War II, published a children’s book, and invented the crushed ice dispenser during his long career at Whirlpool, but one of his proudest accomplishments during his 92 years is a series of drawings of Evansville landmarks.

A long-standing West Sider, Hartman attended F.J. Reitz High School where he took two different art classes.

“I was kind of a teacher’s pet,” he says. “This lady let two of us go off campus. We went to the Mead Johnson terminal and sketched the boats.”

Each of Hartman’s drawings — the steamboat, carousel, Mead Johnson terminal, Pagoda, and old mill — not only hold an important place in the landscape of the city but also have a personal connection to Hartman.

BOB OF ALL TRADES // No one has Evansville pride quite like Robert Hartman. The West Sider worked in the drafting department of Whirlpool until his retirement in 1986, then used his drawing skills to create pieces based on River City landmarks. Many of the drawings are from memory, but others were drawn from photographs Hartman took himself or found at the library.

“That mill used to be on Pennsylvania Street,” says Hartman. “During the Depression, a lot of us West Siders used to get corn cobs down there and mix them with coal. It was cheap heat.”

Some of the drawings, like the mill, Hartman drew from memory. Others were copied from photographs he took himself or found at the library, like the Pagoda and Mesker Zoo carousel.

“During the summer, we would get together with some of the neighbor kids and would walk to Mesker Park at noon,” says Hartman. “My dad also worked out there. He was a painter. He would run the merry-go-round so the operator could go to lunch, and we got to ride for free. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to ride it.”

Hartman sketches his drawings and colors them using airbrush paints, a technique he used while working with Whirlpool. After his retirement from the company in 1986, he bought the art equipment to use for personal projects like his series on Evansville.

His series highlights the history that remains in Evansville and the history that might otherwise not be documented. While Hartman doesn’t sell any of his work, he loves sharing his art with the community in hopes of preserving landmarks and memories.

“A lot of these things you can’t find a good picture of,” says Hartman. “I’ve given a lot of them away.”


“The Honor is All Mine”

I will just get right down to it. As most of you know, I am a man of few words. Oct. 21, 2017, was one of the most memorable days of my life.

Last August, I was invited over to my father-in-law’s home for a visit. I should have been suspicious as, let’s face it, who is going to invite me over for no reason at all? Instead, I was given the tremendous privilege of being asked to be Robert Carter’s Honor Flight guardian. That is not something to be taken lightly. There was no hesitation; I gave a resounding ‘yes’ and started my acclimation to Evansville’s Honor Flight program.

This actually is a fairly steep learning curve, because I doubt a group of volunteers were ever more organized — this must be where the term “military precision” was coined. They were more precise than a Rob Wathen clothing ensemble. (I bet the editor makes me take this out.)

There were two lengthy and mandatory training sessions and a dinner two nights prior to our departure. You can bet when the Honor Guard came out and the national anthem was played, no one in this crowd was kneeling. And Colin Kaepernick would not have had the cojones to do it either.

Arriving at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C., every passenger in the terminal gave these gentlemen a standing ovation as we walked through. Police escorts all day and the outpouring of appreciation and respect occurred literally everywhere we went.

Returning to Evansville, we were greeted by a crowd of a few thousand wildly cheering kids and adults alike. Many tears were shed throughout the day by those being honored, their guardians, and other Honor Flight EVV7 volunteers. I, of course, was steely and emotionless all day.

I am most thankful and grateful for a day I, and many others, will never forget.

(Read our story “Honorable Admiration” in the June/July 2015 issue of Evansville Business magazine, and look for a story on Honor Flight EVV7 in an upcoming issue of Evansville Living.)

Speaking of honor, Darrell Ragland, featured in the November/December 2012 issue of Evansville Living, passed away on Oct. 21. On Feb. 19, 2002, Darrell was given what amounted to a death sentence when told he had neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors.

“The doctors told me to get my paperwork in order,” he said.

Every time I or anyone would see Darrell, he always had the most infectious smile on his face. Gracious, humble, and just “first class” is how I would sum Darrell up and that does not do him justice. The following quote by Darrell in our story says far more than I ever could.

“The greatest thing ever given to me was being diagnosed with cancer. I started enjoying life more, and my wife and children. I truly believe my footsteps have been ordered by the Lord. I have to give him credit.” 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. 

Todd A. Tucker


Home Run

Mattingly Charities brings athletic programs to underserved kids
Claire Baumgartner and Don Mattingly play during a Highland Challenger League game.

After his long and illustrious career in Major League Baseball, Don Mattingly, now the manager of the Miami Marlins, decided he wanted to give back. When determining how and where to begin his nonprofit organization, Mattingly Charities, Don follow ed Mark Twain’s advice — “Write what you know.”

“We started off just by following our hearts and following places we felt like we wanted to be involved in,” he says. “For me, it was easy to start with sports activities.”

Now in its 10th year, Mattingly Charities began as a way to bring sports equipment to children and leagues that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to play. Since then, it has evolved to provide children with more opportunities to play in leagues and be involved in various programs.

“We have a heart for inner city, underserved kids,” says Don. “Giving kids opportunities to give them the best chance to develop, to have success, and to make good choices so they can move forward and sustain themselves and give themselves an opportunity.”

The nonprofit has held events across the country in New York and Los Angeles, but has always considered Evansville home. As Evansville natives, both Don and his wife Lori knew the organization needed to focus on helping Evansville children and have made it a priority to partner with local organizations like the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana and the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville.

▲ Musician Brad Warren, former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, Lori and Don Mattingly, and musician Brett Warren pose in front of Don’s Gold Glove Award at last year’s fundraising event for Mattingly Charities. The annual event serves to raise funds for the programs and resources the organization provides.

Mattingly Charities provides support to various community programs like the YMCA Summer Learning Program, which aims to keep kids engaged in reading and educational programs during the summer, and the City of Evansville Splash into Summer program, which provides basic necessities like towels, flip-flops, swimwear, and swim diapers for residents to be able to take advantage of the city pools.

“We know this is our home base, and we want to continue to give back,” says Lori. “My mom was a teacher’s aide at Glenwood Academy, and I think I just got to see the kind of children she worked with and the kind of children she actually helped. It’s just important for us to give back to our community.”

For Lori, her biggest accomplishment has been supporting the Highland Challenger Baseball League that provides a safe and fun environment for children with disabilities to be able to play ball.

“One of the things that got us started with the Challenger program was that my mom did work with the same kind of children at Glenwood,” says Lori. “When I went to go see one of those baseball games, it brought back all of those memories. What the Challenger League does for these kids is just remarkable — giving them a chance to feel as normal as they can possibly feel.”

“I can’t tell you how many parents we’ve seen just as we’re out shopping somewhere who come up to us and say, ‘My granddaughter or my child was involved, and you don’t even know how excited they are to be a part of that league and what they do,’” says Don.

For Don, one of the highlights of his work with Mattingly Charities was being invited to send a team of 12 kids and coaches to participate in the MLB’s round-robin tournament during the 88th MLB All-Star Week in Miami over the summer.

▲ A team of 12 boys from the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville were selected to play in the 88th MLB All-Star Week in Miami over the summer. The tournament was part of the Mattingly RBI, a part of the MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative.

“To be able to talk to the kids who were coming from our program, had never been on a plane, and got to come for four or five days playing against other kids from all over the country — that was a great feeling for me,” says Don.

The tournament was part of Mattingly RBI, a program implemented in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville now in its third year and part of the MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) initiative. The program helps underserved kids through athletic participation, social development opportunities, and educational advancement programs.

“It obviously goes a long way to have Don involved,” says Ron Ryan, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Evansville. “You have to do so much in sales now be it popcorn, candy, or magazines to help fund leagues. With the Mattingly RBI program, there are no fees. It’s an opportunity these kids would not have otherwise if it weren’t for Don and Lori.”

The programs supported through Mattingly Charities aren’t only about bringing opportunities for area kids, but also about uniting the community through children’s athletics. When the RBI program first began, there were around 150 kids participating. This year, Mattingly RBI served around 400 kids.

“Just in the last two years we’ve been running our program here, I’ll see parents and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters coming to watch their kids,” says Ryan. “That hasn’t always happened, so that’s been special.”

While the nonprofit focuses its energy and funds in Evansville, the organization doesn’t have a local office or any paid employees. All of the work is done on a volunteer basis to ensure 100 percent of the organization’s funds can go back into programs and services.

A major way Mattingly Charities raises funds is through its annual event, which this year is entitled A Bronx Reunion: An Evening with Bernie Williams and Don Mattingly presented by United Companies. The event will take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2018, at Tropicana Evansville and will feature Yankee legend Bernie Williams, who also is a classically trained guitarist. Leading up to the event, an auction powered by HandBid will be available, which goes live Dec. 1 and closes the day of the event, offering signed memorabilia and unique experiences in support of the organization.

“We’re just really grateful for all the people who have helped us at this point,” says Don. “I grew up in a situation that was really positive. I can’t complain about what’s happened to me in my life and the opportunities I’ve had. I think that’s what pushed me to want to be involved with the kids who may not have those opportunities in front of them. We want to create those opportunities.”

Click here to purchase tickets to A Bronx Reunion: An Evening with Bernie Williams and Don Mattingly Jan. 9 at Tropicana Evansville.


Eat, Drink, & Be Merry

35 ways to upgrade your gatherings this year
View the full feature in the November/December 2017 issue of Evansville Living.

The fall and winter months are about gathering — whether it is for family holidays, out-of-town visitors, or long-time friends, one thing is for certain: we like to get together during this time of year.

No matter the guests, occasion, or season, everyone wants to throw a fabulous party. But putting together a get-together can be a tad stressful. Have you invited more people than usual this year? Maybe you’re throwing a soiree for the first time? Or perhaps you’re looking for ways to impress those family and friends who are used to the same dishes each year?

Whatever the case, we cordially invite you to dip into our 35 tips, tricks, and tools of the trade to upgrade your holiday gathering for 2017. Our experts and party extraordinaires are a fount of information to leave your guests impressed and help you feel like the host with the most.

Meet the Experts


Denise Rapp

Owner and caterer with Moveable Feast
Rapp doesn’t shy away from new and interesting recipes in her business. After 18 years in the food industry — spending some of that time in top restaurants in Indianapolis — she has a passion for displaying beautiful and tasty meals. She also has an affinity for collecting eclectic dishes, which she says aids in her presentations of dinners.

Matt Rowe

Reitz Home Museum Executive Director
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Matt Rowe likes to throw parties. Having led programming and events at the Reitz Home since 2011, he’s no stranger to an upscale party scene. Rowe also has been known to throw a Sunday soiree or two for friends, where the music is jazzy, the chardonnay plentiful, and the conversation enticing.

Karen Bush

Professional party assistant
Bush began her partying enterprise in the early 2000s. Since then, she has assisted with and coordinated hundreds of events in the area like private gatherings, corporate events, galas, and fundraisers for nonprofits. From keeping the drinks flowing to magically clearing away messes, her help and work has been described as “pure magic.”   


Chicca Brougham

Independent Psychotherapist/ Licensed Clinical Social Worker
With a big family and Italian heritage, Brougham was bred to love cooking good food for the people she loves. Whether it’s a graduation party with 75 guests or the Reitz Memorial High School soccer team boys — which she claims is like feeding 40 regular people — Brougham is a pro at feeding and entertaining big groups and making it look like a breeze.

Saundra Hadley

Owner and event engineer at planning forever events
Fourteen years ago, Hadley bid the corporate world farewell in favor of a more adventurous avenue — event planning. She does not label herself a typical event planner, however. Whether it’s wedding, corporate, or social event planning, Hadley takes an approach of laughing openly and being direct with her clients. She also enjoys color, doesn’t believe in perfection, and is a self-professed techie. 

Anthony Majors and Jeremy Huff

Dining Room Manager/Certified Sommelier and Bar Manager/Introductory Sommelier at Evansville Country Club
Majors joined Evansville Country Club this year to lend his wine expertise to the club’s dining experience. Huff has been behind the club’s bar for the past 10 years, pouring up everything from classics to drinks with a twist. 

1. Keep it simple.

“Don’t get too pretentious,” says Majors. “A party is not about people feeling uncomfortable.”

2. Play to your strengths. 

“I love to cook, but some people don’t,” says Brougham. “If you need to supplement with something store bought, do it.”

3. Light up.

An overlooked aspect of a good party is lighting. Be sure to have the lights low, says Rowe. Lighting should not be harsh or bright as your guests mingle.

4. Be prepared. 

“My quote always is it’s better to have more than less,” says Bush.

5. Class Act. 

At a party or gathering with his friends, Majors says he would mix up a seasonally appropriate twist on an Old Fashioned. His take includes using maple syrup as the sugar component to the classic cocktail.

“People will recognize the elements, but it has a unique twist,” he says. “It is relatively easy to make, and it embodies fall. The maple syrup gives it that nice weight and fall time flavor profile. It’s very holiday-esque without tasting like a liquefied gingerbread man.” 

Majors' Old Fashioned:
» 1 slice orange peel
» 2 ounces Evansville Country Club’s Woodford Reserve
» 2/3 ounce good quality maple syrup
» 1 splash Bigallet China-China
» 1 splash blood orange bitters
» 2 Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Muddle the orange peel in the glass and add ice. Next, add the bourbon, syrup, liqueur, and bitters. Stir. Garnish with two Luxardo Maraschino Cherries.

6. Dish it out.

Brougham sets out her serving ware and designates each one with a Post-it note of what food will go in each dish. This not only helps you know if you have enough serving plates and bowls, but also will keep you from scrambling around the day of the party.

7. Cooking for a Crowd. 

One of Brougham’s favorite things to serve at a party are tapas. “That is my favorite because it doesn’t involve a lot of cooking unless you want it to,” she says. “There’s something for everyone, and it’s casual.”

The key to making food for a large number of people is cooking dishes that can be prepared ahead of time, can sit out and still be delicious, have a lot of color, and are well rounded.

Even for sit down meals, Brougham stresses there are dishes that can be made ahead of time and reheated. Soups, lasagnas, and beef tenderloin all are some of her favorite options. Her go to, though, is an Italian-inspired chicken pasta casserole adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.

“I love it because you can make it ahead and reheat it,” she says. “You can freeze it and reheat it. You can double, triple, or quadruple it. It’s truly become one of our staples.”

Brougham’s Italian-inspired Chicken Pasta Casserole:
» 1 pound of rotini pasta (or other small pasta)
» 4 tablespoons olive oil
» 1 pound cubed chicken breasts
» 1 cup diced onion
» 2 cloves garlic, minced
» 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
» 3/4 of a jar of good quality spaghetti sauce (organic if that is important to you)
» 1 to 2 cups shredded Provel cheese
(or shredded mozzarella if you are morally opposed to processed cheese)
» 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan (not from the green can — never from the green can)
» 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
» 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
» Kosher salt to taste
» Black pepper to taste

Cook and drain the pasta. Put back into the pot with a little butter or olive oil to keep it from sticking.

Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about two minutes. Add chicken and sauté for about 3 minutes. Salt and pepper chicken to taste. Add garlic and continue to cook over medium heat until chicken is cooked through and onions are soft. Add the diced tomatoes and turn off heat.

Pour the chicken mixture into the pot of cooked pasta and stir to combine. Add spaghetti sauce to taste — enough to keep the pasta moist but not so much the whole thing becomes excessively saucy. Add cheeses and combine. Stir in parsley and basil. Salt and pepper the entire mixture to taste and place in a lightly buttered 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. After removing from oven, additional chopped parsley can be sprinkled on top if desired.

8. Invite only.

With social media and text messaging, navigating formal invitations can be tricky. If you’d like to do a unique party invite and stay paperless, Hadley recommends a video invite. “Take a video of yourself inviting guests. Be sure to include date, time, and location, then email or text it,” she says.

9. A healthy serving. 

A safe estimate for wine at a party is half a bottle for each guest. With liquor, keep in mind that, unlike wine, liquor doesn’t go bad. It’s better to have too much than not enough. “A well-stocked bar makes a party great,” says Huff.

10. Picky eaters. 

Planning a meal for a holiday party may seem overwhelming, but Rapp says it is doable for everyone — even if you aren’t a gourmet chef. Start your party meal planning by thinking of your guests — with family and friends, think about their taste buds and what they like to eat. Incorporate different vegetables, meats, and cheeses into dishes to satisfy all.

11. Set the mood. 

“Music is an important element in a party,” says Rowe. Put together a playlist on a music app such as Pandora or Spotify, set up Bluetooth speakers, and control your party music through your phone.

12. Make history.


Look to history and cultural traditions for inspiration. The eggnog Rowe serves is a modernized version of a recipe from the 1920s.

13. Set a Theme.

Not all parties need themes, but they can add an element of fun to a gathering. Hadley says just be sure not to go overboard and become kitschy.

14. Spontaneity.

If you’d like to incorporate something different in your parties, Rowe suggests a fog machine — yes, a fog machine. "It’s just a black box and I always like to sit it behind a plant,” he says. “It has a remote control and just fills the room up with fog. Everyone thinks it is the funniest thing.”

15. Get out of control.

Allow the help you’ve hired to actually help. “When someone says they can help alongside me, I feel like that’s not fair to them because it’s their party,” says Bush.

16. Oldies but goodies.

When having a lot of people over for dinner or appetizers, don’t use the opportunity to try something new. Stick to something you’ve successfully made before and know will be a hit.

17. Get fresh.

Use fresh flowers and fruits to create a display of food that will have your guests’ mouths watering before they dig in. “People eat with their eyes,” says Rapp. “As soon as they see the food, if it is beautiful, they already know they are going to have a good time.”

18. Snazzy Accessories.

Dress up time-honored party snacks with decorative bowls. Rowe loves to serve chips, fruit, and popcorn in polished silver bowls at his get-togethers.

19. The Party Magician.

Titles elude Bush. Ask her what her role at a party is, and she won’t have an exact answer. She does a little bit of everything.

“Karen is without a question in Evansville the ultimate party coordinator,” says Scott Wylie. “When she comes to your house, you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry about are the chips full, drinks refreshed. That’s what Karen facilitates. You’re making sure everyone is having a good time. She does magic.”

Bush has been assisting with parties, events, and functions since the early 2000s. In that time and with her experience, she has become an expert in entertaining and party throwing. One of the keys to her success is her go-with-the-flow approach to any possible challenges.

“All parties are different,” she says. “I have to be flexible. I have to be able to work out of laundry rooms and backyards.”

The advantage of hiring someone with Bush’s experience is it allows you to focus on your guests and enjoy the party while they take care of the behind-the-scenes details many forget.

“The one thing I just love about it is all the different people I meet,” says Bush. “Everybody says, ‘Oh, you could write a book.’ When people tell me I could write a book, I say I would probably get more money from people wanting to keep them out of the book than I would get from the sales of the book.”

20. Organizational Skills a Must. 

Food and drink are staples of any great seasonal soiree, but just as important is your guests’ access to these items. Be sure there is enough room for guests to enter and exit the area where food and drinks are located, says Hadley.

21. Pace yourself. 

a party should be fun, reminds Rapp, so be sure to take your time. “Enjoy baking your dishes, cutting your vegetables and serving your food,” she says. “Don’t tell yourself you hate to cook, think about your friends who are coming. And if you need a glass of wine to help you accomplish your tasks, then do it,” she laughs.

22. Less stress, no mess.

Worried about enjoying your own soiree? Hire in a bit of help. “Karen Bush certainly is the go-to person in Evansville,” raves Rowe. “She’ll greet people at the door, take their coats. She’ll make them drinks — and she makes perfect drinks.”

Having larger parties and serving dinner can be cumbersome. Consider catering your event or a party helper who can help by fetching drinks, replenishing food, and keeping trash manageable.

23. Have options.

Be sure to offer a wide variety of liquor and wine. “When you buy for a lot of people, you want to run the gamut of styles,” says Majors. “Dry white, dry red, sweet white, sweet red, something effervescent.”

24. GO BIG.

If you’re expanding your guest list for your annual holiday gathering, Hadley says to think about your space. Some rearranging of a room can create more space for your guests. If your seating options are limited, consider rental tables and chairs.

25. Don’t cry over spilled champagne.

“I learn every time I do something,” says Bush. “I’m still learning.” As a host, your primary responsibility is to ensure your guests are having a good time and enjoying the party. Focus on your guests, and everything else will fall into place.

26. Don't leave 'til tomorrow that which you can do today. 

Take Benjamin Franklin’s and Chicca Brougham’s advice and prepare as much ahead of time as you possibly can.

“If I can do stuff the day before, I’ll do it,” she says.

27. Back to nature.

If you’re looking for a  way to spruce up napkin holders or garnishes, Rapp suggests getting back to nature. “Use natural elements to bring uniqueness to your table,” she says. “Fresh sage and rosemary are great garnishes or you can wrap them around your napkins. You can even make a name tag out of a bay leaf.”

28. Flare for the Dramatic.

Huff’s cocktail pick for a party also is an old classic — the Derby. “A Derby is not served in a lot of bars anymore,” says Huff. “It’s a little showy, it’s fun, and it’s tasty. It’s classic.”

Huff’s Derby Drink:
» 1 slice flared orange peel
» 2 ounces bourbon
» 4 shakes Angostura bitters
» 1 ounce Benedictine
» Splash of house-made allspice dram

Flare an orange peel into the glass with a match. In a shaker filled with ice, combine the bourbon, bitters, Benedictine, and house-made allspice dram. Strain into the glass.


29. Full circle.

If your dinner party consists of more than eight guests, consider finding a round table to dine on. This allows conversation to flow more easily around
the table.

30. Timed Perfectly.

Many elements come together to make a holiday get-together successful. One important tip to remember is duration. “A good party, whether dinner or just cocktails, typically lasts three to four hours,” says Hadley. “Any longer than that, you may need to get out the pillows and blankets for your guests to stay the night.”

31. Serve responsibly. 

It’s a host’s responsibility to make sure guests are having a good time, but it’s also their responsibility to make sure guests get home safely at the end of the night. With Uber or services like Select Sedans, there is no excuse for driving under the influence.

32. Relax & Enjoy!

Remember, it’s your party, so take time to enjoy it. Once dinner is served, says Rapp, do not feel the need to rush through it. Allow yourself a chance to talk and mingle as well as enjoy the feast you’ve created.

33. Don’t forget the after party.

“You can tell when someone entertains, because they have lots of containers for leftovers and Ziploc bags,” says Bush.

34. Ice Ice Baby. 

“Have plenty of ice” says Bush. “People will buy enough liquor but will forget the ice,” says Huff.

35. More is more.

Don’t be afraid of having a little food left over after your dinner meal, says Rapp. Keeping adequate portions in mind for your guests is good, but if you have a little food left over, it’s nothing to worry about. “Allow at least five bites for hors d’oeuvres and four to six ounces of meat per person,” says Rapp. The most important thing to remember is you don’t want to overstuff your diners too soon. A satisfying appetizer and fulfilling meal leaves room for the star of the show — dessert.

“They should be able to enjoy the dessert without feeling miserable,” says Rapp. “So always keep in mind, it doesn’t take a lot for people to get full.” 


Be Our Guest
We’ve all grown up learning basic manners at the family table. When it comes to being a good party guest, however, there is more to it than not talking with our mouths full and keeping our elbows off the table.

Ensuring you will be a good guest begins before you even step foot at the party. A quick and definite RSVP will go a long way to earn you some brownie points with the host. A good entrance also is important. Don’t show up too early and frazzle an already busy host, but don’t show up late and miss an important event.

As Midwesterners, we already know not to show up to someone’s house empty handed, but we can take it a step further. For a host gift or contribution to the party, make sure it is something that won’t be a burden. Have flowers already arranged in a vase — something from your own garden adds a personal touch. Looking for a unique yet useful gift for the host? Consider picking up colorful or interesting cocktail napkins, such as those made by Gaspari. A host can never have too many cocktail napkins.

If you’re helping with food or drinks for the party, don’t bring a fussy dish that needs a lot of prep and make sure the beverages are at the proper temperature and don’t require too many ingredients.
Once you are settled into the party, make sure to be a fun, engaged guest. Put your phone away and enjoy the people and conversation around you. Refrain from spending the evening posting pictures to social media and get acquainted with your fellow partygoers. Even if you don’t know many people, there isn’t a better place to make new acquaintances than at a gathering of mutual friends and family.

In the end, being a good guest comes down to being unselfish and thoughtful. Think of others before yourself, and you are sure to be invited back to the second bash. .


Into the Woods

Mominees live simple in their modern Boonville home
Nathan and Noelle Mominee

The plans for Nathan and Noelle Mominee’s dream home were not ones that were finished quickly. In fact, the couple took the better part of three years putting their ideal home down on paper before they even found a site to build.

“I tell people when designing homes, ‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and design something until you find your land.’ But I had the idea of the land I wanted, so I had the cart in front of the horse,” says Nathan. “The whole time our intention was to find something with some woods and trails.”

“We looked at about nine properties including this one,” adds Noelle.

Nathan and Noelle met at the University of Evansville where they both studied civil engineering. Nathan — a Boonville, Indiana, native — was a teacher’s aide in Dr. Mark Valenzuela’s engineering 101 course. Noelle, a graduate of Castle High School, was a student in the class.

“That’s where we first saw each other, and the rest is history,” says Nathan.

When they both graduated from UE, Nathan set out to build his first house, something he says he had wanted to do since he was young. He and Noelle worked together on the project, finishing the home before they were married in 2005.

“We were testing ourselves,” says Noelle with a smile.

“I think we did well with all the stress,” adds Nathan. “We definitely did things the hard way, but we’ve learned a lot since then.”

From that project, the Mominees grew more into their business — Mominee Homes and Roofing — and into their lives. It was during this time that the plans for their home continued to adjust. A large garage attached to the house was added to keep one main footprint for the home. Porches running the length of the house were designed for the first floor and the walk-out basement.

“The kitchen was one of the biggest areas that changed,” says Noelle. “And the master bedroom. Both went through a lot of iterations.”

“We stretched and tugged and tweaked on the plans,” adds Nathan. “But it was a good thing it took some time to finalize because we’ve grown as designers and as people. We understand more of what we enjoy and how we live. It’s nice to be able to have that kind of understanding when you make this kind of commitment.”

Then, by chance, they stumbled on a spot near Scales Lake in Boonville, Indiana. The land was a part of acreage owned by the Weyerbacher family, who has lived in the Boonville area since the mid 1800s, according to Nathan. Hoping to work out an agreement with the family, Nathan visited the Weyerbachers two years ago.

“John Weyerbacher answered the door, and we just kind of hit it off,” says Nathan. “I told him I grew up here and I wanted to come back home, be closer to my family, and be close to Scales Lake Park. I told him my story, and he said he would talk to his brothers and sisters about it.”

Two years later, the Mominees would see their plans finally come to life.

SPACE AND FUNCTION -  Nathan and Noelle Mominee, above right, have called their modern-inspired Boonville residence home for about a year. Their kitchen, above, features a mirror with a hood-fan behind it installed above the stove, which allows anyone cooking to keep an eye on whoever is behind them. Above left, a book of designs by Frank Lloyd Wright sits in the entryway of the home. Wright was known for designing structures in harmony with the environment, which is what the Mominees strive to do with their home.

“This spot — we couldn’t really have designed anything better than what we’ve found here,” says Nathan.

For Nathan and Noelle, their home is a mixture of functionality, modern design, and comfort. The Mominees knew for certain they wanted a home with a low impact on the environment around them, especially as the couple wanted to build in a wooded area. A southern facing spot also was a must to maximize the amount of winter sunlight coming into the home.

“One of the biggest things you see when you walk in or that you feel is the atrium,” says Nathan.

Traditionally, homes with large, open floor plans have interior rooms far from exterior walls, which prevents natural light from filtering in. Design elements such as skylights can help, but can become a maintenance concern, says Nathan.

To capitalize on the southern viewshed from the home and avoid elements such as skylights, the Mominees maximized the southern glazing with 16-foot glass sliding doors and an atrium that allows indirect sunlight to fill the space throughout the day.

“It creates this three-dimensional dynamic in the big common room,” says Nathan. “We were able to carry it into the master suite, which really was cool. It also makes the roofline exciting.”

The first story of the home features a very open plan, with a kitchen and common room that flows into the master bedroom suite complete with a long, tiled shower and a large walk-in closet. In the basement, there are two galley-styled rooms for the Mominees’ two children, as well as an open play area.

The bathroom for the children is split, with a shower and vanity in one room and another half bathroom next door, an idea from Noelle to avoid conflicts over the space in the morning.

The couple also mixed in “some old with new,” with repurposed barn wood used on several different walls throughout the home.

“We’re trying to mix it in with the modern,” says Noelle. “I call it warm modern.”

The home also features a beautiful stained glass window depicting a great blue heron above the entrance to the master suite. The piece was made by Nathan’s mom, and aunt and uncle (owners of Mominee Studios) and has had a place in each of Nathan’s and Noelle’s homes.

In all, the home has a total footprint of 3,200 square feet. It sits on nearly 16 acres of wooded land, which allows the Mominees to build mountain bike trails through the property. Nathan already has completed a one-mile loop, which the family enjoys frequently.

Though the home is not overwrought with extra space, there is enough for the family to eat, play, and live together, which is what the Mominees say is the point.

“We are trying to create space that has functionality. We didn’t leave much room for additional furniture or things,” says Noelle. “We wanted to create spacing where things have a purpose and place.”

While many may snub their noses at modern styles for being sterile and cold, the Mominees find the design invites the outdoors in and allows them to be creative as a family to make the space more their own.

“When it’s not all ready for a photo shoot, it’s got the color of life with homework spread out, toys all over the place,” says Nathan. “I think it’s just a good canvas to put the color of your life on.”

“We’re trying to set that example for our children, too,” adds Noelle. “They have toys, but we’re trying to keep it simple. Get them outside and explore.”

In the future, the couple plans an addition of a pool in the back yard along with a big tree house, all of which play into the family’s love of the nature around them.

LIVE DELIBERATELY -  The Mominees’ home features minimum furniture and an open floor plan that flows easily throughout the house. The main living space, kitchen, and master bedroom face large windows looking out at the family’s wooded backyard. Both porches on the first level and basement walk-out span the length of the home and are 500 square feet each.

“It’s a whole different feeling here,” says Noelle. “Being able to see the woods, that feeling you get walking in — it’s one of my favorite things.”

“You’re just embraced by nature. It’s very relaxing. It’s like a sanctuary,” adds Nathan. “It feels good.”

WILDERNESS AND NATURE -  Mountain biking is a favorite hobby of the Mominee family. Nathan and Noelle built a one-mile trail loop on their property, with twists, turns, and jumps included. The couple say they enjoy teaching their two young children the ropes of biking and being outside as a family.

Best Guests

Letters to the editor can be sent to letter@evansvilleliving.com.

What was the most memorable party you’ve ever been to or hosted? Now, think of that question as you ponder the “Party of the Century,” Truman Capote’s famous Black and White Ball held on Nov. 28, 1966, to honor Katherine Graham, president of the Washington Post and Newsweek, and to mark Capote’s success with, “In Cold Blood.”

That drizzly evening, the Monday after Thanksgiving, the author Capote welcomed 540 of his best friends to the Grand Ballroom in Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel. The evening survives in photographs, in the recollections of the guests who still are living 51 years later, in a book, “Party of the Century: The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and his Black and White Ball,” by Deborah Davis; and soon, a movie of the same name, “Party of the Century.”

A perfectionist, Capote outlined strict guidelines for his guests: only attire of black or white was permitted, all guests must wear a mask, and women were required to carry fans. While planning the night, he reasoned, “I want the party to be united in the way you make a painting.”

He spent months curating the guest list. The invited rushed to buy new black and white gowns and suits and commission custom masks adorned with pearls, jewels, and feathers (by Adolfo, and a young milliner who used a single name, Halston — Roy Halston Frowick, who grew up in Evansville).

So your most memorable parties are not quite so legendary? Today, we are much less concerned with impressing than welcoming — but still, don’t we all appreciate special treatment? That’s what we sought in the feature, “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!” (page 36) — specific ways to upgrade our family and social gatherings to better express gratitude and reflect our lifestyles.

Here, to get us in the mood to party plan, a few members of the Tucker Publishing Group staff share their most memorable party memories.

Jessica Hoffman and Jennifer Rhoades, advertising account executives, and twins
A couple of years ago, our family (the Campbells) and our godparents’ family (the Montgomerys) started celebrating “Christmas in July.” This year’s gathering took place on the Montgomery farm on the hottest weekend of the year. We did a trek to the North Pole through the woods, a snowball fight with Styrofoam balls, and we worked as teams to turn someone into Santa with crepe paper. A fireworks show titled “Viewing the Northern Lights” was enjoyed with frozen hot chocolate.

Amanda Redenbaugh, graphic designer
Two years ago my family started doing a progressive dinner; now that we are older and have our own homes it is a fun experience. After Christmas Eve service, we started at my house. Sean and I hosted the appetizer portion. We’ve served a cheese and cracker tray in the shape of a Christmas tree, Grinch kabobs (a green grape, banana, strawberry, and marshmallow on top), and veggie pizza. We had fun playing the game LCR (Left, Right, Center) and laughing and carrying on about who would win the game. The main course was at my parents’ house and dessert at my sister’s house.

Trista Lutgring, managing editor
I have friends in Tell City, Indiana, my hometown, who throw a huge Christmas party each year. It is a quintessential Midwest celebration — a large potluck dinner with everything from soups and chili to fried chicken and cheesy casseroles. The great build up of the evening, however, is the gift exchange. I look forward to this game, aptly named “Dirty Santa,” every year. Everyone has a strategy and the competition is fierce. But after several heated gift exchanges and good-natured fighting, we always end the night with some good cocktails and laughter.

Elisa Gross, staff writer
My family always has had an open house policy, literally extending into the holidays with our annual Christmas Open House. Each year, my mom would spend weeks making candies, cookies, and other treats. She still has a giant binder stashed away in the kitchen full of holiday recipes and menus from open houses past. My favorite part was never the party itself, but the anticipation — stirring caramels over the stove, decorating the house from top to bottom, and sneaking cookies from hidden away tins.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you!

Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor


Wild Card

Peggy Kincaid plays her cards right
Peggy Kincaid has been playing bridge for most of her life.

If you ask Peggy Kincaid how long she’s been a member of the Evansville Duplicate Bridge Club, she’ll say not that long. Ask anyone else, and they’ll inform you Kincaid has been a member for 12 to 15 years — at least.

Her membership in the bridge club, however, is nothing compared to how long she’s played the card game. The 96 year old learned as a child from her father. She’s been playing ever since.

“It seems like forever,” says Kincaid. “I’ve played for many years, however, not the new conventions. I played old-fashioned bridge. Everything is different now.”

In September, after decades of playing bridge, Kincaid earned her Life Master rank through The American Contract Bridge League’s North American Bridge Championships.

To earn a Life Master ranking, players joining before Jan. 1, 2010, have to amass at least 300 points in different categories — gold/platinum, red, black, and silver points — through regional tournaments. Kincaid was inspired to earn her ranking after her daughter Jane Perkins received her Life Master in January.

“I thought well I should get on the ball and get to these regionals,” says Kincaid. “So I went to three regionals and got my gold points to become a Life Master.”

Kincaid traveled with her daughter to three different tournaments in Nashville, Tennessee; Effingham, Illinois; and St. Louis to earn her points, reaching her Life Master status after the tournament in St. Louis.

Kincaid says the key to becoming a good player is learning from even better players. At the club in Evansville, Kincaid plays with different partners. During the regional tournaments, however, she always played with her daughter.

“The directors caught on to her in Nashville and just fell in love with her,” says Perkins. “When she got this in St. Louis, they were crying and hugging her. This one director, Brad, said, ‘Honestly, I’m as happy for you as I was when I got mine. No, I take that back. I’m happier for you.’”

At 96 years old, Kincaid is the oldest player in Indiana to earn a Life Master and one of the oldest in the country.

“You make a lot of friends playing bridge,” she says. “It passes away a lot of time for me, and you meet a lot of nice people.”

For more information about the Evansville Duplicate Bridge Club, call 812-471-3838 or visit bridgewebs.com.


Mystery Solved

Boonville author finds creative outlet in crime novels

Caroline Fardig had a bit of a problem — every time she finished reading a book, she found herself thinking of how she would have ended the story instead.

“I was doing that over and over again,” says the Boonville native and University of Evansville graduate. “That was part of my push to start writing — to see what I could do with an idea.”

Now an author for Penguin Random House with a USA Today best selling author nod and three mystery series under her belt, Fardig just released a new novel delving into the world of procedural forensics. While it is a subject that always fascinated her, writing up murders is a far cry from her original career path.

“I earned a degree in music education, and I taught for a little while,” says Fardig. “But it just really wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.”

She worked a few other jobs here and there — from banking to insurance — before she decided to put pen to paper and churn out her first novel in 2013, “It’s Just a Little Crush: A Lizzie Hart Mystery,” which Fardig refers to as a “cozy mystery.” Fardig’s new novel “Bitter Past” takes a different route into the nitty gritty of forensic work.

“I’m always the one watching CSI TV shows thinking, ‘Ugh, you can’t do that in that time frame!’ I’m always picking it apart,” she says. “So I looked around and signed up for forensic classes at Ivy Tech Community College. It was the most fun class I had ever taken in my life.”

For Fardig, crafting her characters is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the writing process.

“Once I’m into the story, I like how you can nuance a character to have little problems like we all have,” she says. “How their issues kind of affect how they interact with other people and how they see others.”

In “Bitter Past,” it’s those character struggles that bring an interesting twist to the mystery, says Fardig.

“The main character Ellie just has this real struggle on two levels throughout the book, and I love that about the character — that she is just torn the whole time,” she says.

For more information about Caroline Fardig, visit carolinefardig.com.


Culture Club

A garage full of stuff is more than a pile of refuse
Philip Hooper

Stuff makes a big difference — especially when you are selling a home or trying to move into a new one. As my close friends know, I have a lot of stuff in my garage. It’s not a maze of Rubbermaid storage containers stacked precariously to the ceiling with holiday decorations and the family’s least important material possessions, but a curated collection of keepsakes, family heirlooms, local history, humorous oddities, and pop cultural ephemera.

Laid out with ambient lighting and 1960s office furniture, we call it The Museum of Material Culture. Sure, we’re one of those families that never parks in the garage, but we’re in good company.

Increasingly, the great American garage no longer keeps just cars. The garage has grown to new roles, a multifaceted space with new possibilities. A place where friends gather to watch the big game or play pool. A stage for a new rock band. A detached pool house cabana or Pinterest-inspired outdoor dining paradise. An artist’s studio. In newer neighborhoods without front porches, the attached garage fills in for the classic covered porch, where folks roll up the door, sit in lawn chairs instead of porch swings, and wave at neighbors passing by.

Our garage is a collection of collections. My penchant for collecting began in 1992 with Mountain Dew cans, while my wife Amanda started with Coca-Cola and has an impressive Duran Duran display. As time goes on, we’ve added some cherished old tools of my grandfathers: metal working tools from my grandfather who built P-47s and Victorian-era tools able to raise a mortise and tenon barn in 1890s fashion.

One man’s trash … Philip Hooper’s garage is filled with more than just things. It’s a carefully curated collection of keepsakes, oddities, history, and ephemera called the Museum of Material Culture. With 1960s furniture and collections galore, some of the museum’s notable items are a 1941 counted cross-stitch Last Supper, 1970s hair dryer chairs, Atari 2600, and collection of Mountain Dew cans..

Whether it’s Evansville items of local interest including two Servel gas refrigerators and a collection of Whirpool annual reports and employee magazines; Herman Miller chairs; an Atari 2600; 1970s hair dryer chairs; a library of National Geographics; or a 1960s Popular Mechanics handyman encyclopedia set (complete with instructions for back yard contraptions that would send a parent to jail today for endangering children), our collection connects us both to loved ones who have gone on and to times that too have passed.

Among my most prized possessions are a series of framed items I retrieved from a dumpster in Indianapolis: a 1941 countedcross-stich Last Supper, a late 1800s print of the 100 most popular depictions of Jesus, and a massive 1895 print of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln got to stay in the house.

At the root of it all is the question “Why do we collect?” At The Museum of Material Culture, it is an extension of what I do every day in my real estate world: making connections, and telling the story. In our garage, and as in all great collections of collections, there are many stories to be told that — if told well — can connect us to the past, to the present, and to a broader world.


Driving Miss Winnie

Wilde Horticulture gets around town on vintage wheels
Brian, his wife Crystal, and daughters Marjorie and Adelaide know how to stay busy and keep truckin’.

Brian Wildeman hardly can sit at an intersection these days without drivers shouting out compliments about his new ride.

The new addition to his landscape business Wilde Horticulture isn’t new at all. It’s a fully restored 1949 Chevrolet 6400 farm truck named Winnie.

“People always say, ‘It reminds me of my dad,’ ‘It reminds me of my grandpa,’ or ‘I learned how to drive on that car,’” he says. “It really brings back those memories.”

Wilde Horticulture, founded in February 2016, doesn’t have a storefront; that prevented Wildeman and the business from breaking into retail. With the new truck, however, the company has been traveling around the city since July for pop-up shops and parking lot takeovers at locations like The Red Poppy and the Reitz Home Museum and events like Kunstfest and Funk in the City.

After seeing similar pop-ups in different cities around the country and the world, Wildeman says he realized it was something Evansville needed, too.

“It’s trying to bring a little bit of what you see elsewhere back to Evansville,” he says. “You see a lot of the same old stuff around here. I think it just goes hand in hand with creating something fun and different.”

Through the holiday season, Winnie will travel around town stocked with Christmas greeneries, roping, wreaths, twigs, and berries. Winnie’s future stops are announced on the company’s Facebook and Instagram pages, but she likes to keep her appearances spontaneous. Shoppers can find her next at Christ the King School’s Jingle Mingle Mart on Nov. 17 and in front of The Red Poppy on Nov. 18.

“It’s been a lot of fun to see people’s reactions,” says Wildeman. “It just sparks that interest, and it brings back nostalgic memories.”

For more information about Wilde Horticulture, call 812-604-5322 or visit wildespaces.com.