You’ll never guess what Indiana keeps with its constitution

In 1921, John Dillinger moved from Indianapolis to Mooresville, Indiana. His father said the city was corrupting his son, who while a hard worker, stayed out and partied all night. A year later his wild demeanor conflicted with his newfound rural life and he stole a car. His father, attempting to right his son, urged him to enlist in the Navy. He deserted a few months later and was dishonorably discharged.

Returning to Indiana, Dillinger married in 1924 and tried to hold a job, but it wasn’t his lifestyle. He divorced five years later in 1929.

With the economy slowing in the buildup to the Great Depression, Dillinger was short on cash and unable to hold a job. He and a friend decided to rob a local grocery store of $50. It was their first robbery, one that his father, a local church deacon, attempted to negotiation his sentence down with the Morgan County prosecutor. To no avail, he was sentenced to 15 years.

Dillinger’s criminal history would grow into one this country still talks about today. After his release from prison, Dillinger would go on to live his promise of becoming “the meanest bastard you’ve ever seen when I get out of here.” He was pissed at society and his father, always supportive of his son (even gathering signatures for a petition to release him), never stopped believing in his him.

Dillinger would go on to rob at least 13 banks, though he’s suspected in more. His gang, whom he met in prison, would rob six banks in Indiana alone across the state. He became wanted in the shooting of an East Chicago police officer. They robbed police stations in Auburn and Peru, Indiana for weapons and ammunition. They became so brazen, Dillinger’s gang became the reason J. Edgar Hoover established the modern day FBI.

Dillinger was wanted in states across the Midwest and by the US Government. His crimes were stopped when he was shot and killed by officers in Chicago during a raid.

Among his crimes in Indiana, they included assault, bank robberies, armed robberies, assaulting officers, killing an officer, and escaping from the “escape proof” Crown Point prison in Lake County.

His crimes are the stuff of legend. So much so that legends live on. It’s rumored his penis is in the Smithsonian. And the paperwork for his arrests and warrants and other evidence sits in a surprising place.

In Indianapolis at the Indiana State Archives sits records from across the state. In the already secure and fire-protected facility sits a vault. In that vault are more precious and important papers and work. And in that vault sits a safe. In that safe are three things: aerial photos of the state, the Indiana Constitution, and the Dillinger files.

So the next time you wonder where the vaulted Constitution sits, or how such a document can be the guiding principle for our laws, and how our state can enshrine marriage laws to men and women, remember: that document is of the same value and prestige that it has to be stored alongside files and papers from a murderer, robber, and escaped convict so infamous and heinous it overshadows the likes of Bonnie and Clyde.

The Spirit of Adventure

You know that scene in UP, the one where Carl and Ellie have their life play out before us? Their lives start as young kids who meet over a shared interest in exploring South America.

They get married, save money for their future life in Paradise Falls, and life constantly gets in their way. A flat tire, a broken leg, a tree falls on their house. It constantly empties their savings and with it their life in Paradise Falls. Ellie even miscarries a baby, and despite the gravity of the situation, It’s a beautiful four minutes of cinema. Pixar managed to tell a better story in four minutes than most movies can do in a hundred and four minutes — all without a single spoken word.

UP is my favorite movie. The characters are lovable and relatively pedestrian, yet flawed and adventurous. The music is perfectly timed and relevant. The plot has its twists on a classic carpe diem theme.

Who isn’t Carl or Ellie? Carl had big dreams as a child, got married and lost sight of his dreams but never his love. He sold balloons at the zoo Ellie worked at as a zookeeper. He retired and is widowed only to have his world around him change and collapse. With exception of never failing at love, his experience mirrors that of you and me.

Carl loses his wife to death, but never stops believing she’s there. He gets jaded and bitter in his old age — maybe he always was. Maybe I have, too. Pixar took the storybook and rewrote the book.

There’s so much about UP I admire, respect, and envy. I admire the team at Pixar that wrote, animated, scored, and produced this film. I respect their talent and skills and envy the ability to do it. We should all be so lucky to attach our names to a project that as far reaching and wonderful as UP.

JustinJeremiah_019As much as I admire the technical and artistic chops of Pixar for such real and flawed animated characters, I admire and relate to Carl, too.

Since I first saw UP in 2009, I’ve wished for the love that Carl had. But “had” is the key word, because I inevitability question the pain of the inevitable loss of love.

Is 50 years of love worth the heartache that is destined for us all? Or is 50 years of solitude and loneliness, which is likely to shorten your life anyway, a better alternative?

Most people would quickly favor a long life filled with love, but if you lose it enough times you have to begin questioning the fleeting value.

I’m thinking of the life I want to have, just like Carl and Ellie did. Even though I know that life likely won’t permit me to live out the dreams I’ve always had. Despite serious setbacks along the way, I’m lucky to have met Jeremiah — my partner of over a year now.

We should all be so lucky.