Glad to be (far) from Fort Wayne

September 25, 2008

Former Fort Wayne resident Amy Wellborn considers this “one of the oddest places” she’s ever lived. Her lengthy post mostly is about Fort Wayne’s parochialism and resistance to change:

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to blame it all on the Amish. Seriously.

There is a fairly substantial Amish population in Northern Indiana, and I finally concluded that the Germans who settled and shaped Fort Wayne, even if they were not actually Amish, still bore a bit of that suspicious, stubborn, closed-in, parochial sensibility. There’s a fear of giving you too much access to the outside world – it might look too pretty, it might attract you, and you might want to escape. Can’t have that. So we will decline the direct interstate links, we will not develop the rivers that run right through the middle of town and that, in any other city, are a center of life and development, and we will resent the new.

Some people will resent her for bashing the Summit City, but it would be pretty silly to deny the resistance of the new here. Hell, that defines Fort Wayne. But there is good and bad in that. It can keep a place from growing and stretching to find itself, just like it can a person. But it can also keep us from us from doing some stupid and rash things, or at least delay them a little.

(via Common Sensibilities)

19 Responses to “Glad to be (far) from Fort Wayne”

  1. Mike Harvey Says:

    Ha! Yes, blame a group that can’t connect to the Internet and see this! Or can they??? lol

    So even the quote “The more things change, the more they remain the same” doesn’t even have enough energy to “kick in and apply” in Fort Wayne??? or does it???

    It can be a matter of perspective as well. I’ve enjoyed Fort Wayne more and interacting with other races and peoples than I did in Decatur. Since the world is becoming more interconnected from a communication standpoint that is at least one thing running counter to the idea on FW in a box…

  2. Pete C Says:

    Two of my favorite things about Fort Wayne: it’s off the beaten path, and there’s nothing much to do here! I had some kind of culture shock when I moved here. Got so relaxed that I would forget to look for traffic when crossing streets. Almost got creamed by a pickup truck once. I would say Fort Wayne is very, very subtle.

  3. Bob G. Says:

    I’m with Pete….
    Compared to Philly, it’s way more laid back here (in some respects), and that’s nice to know.

    The “down” side comes from the part of town I happen to own a house in…the SOUTH side.
    And that’s got more crime and “curious characters” than all my OTHER neighborhoods back in philly COMBINED.

    Trouble is, when we had a nuisance in one of THOSE neighborhoods in Philly…the problem got solved.
    Whole other story.
    The problem never goes just multiplies.
    I call the police about twice a month for idiots in my area, and that’s giving them a pass on a lot of “stuff”…
    In Philly, I can count the number of times my parents called the police on ONE HAND…and that was over 45 years running
    (must be a “cultural thang”)

    Guess you can’t have everything, can you?


  4. Nance Says:

    I’ve read your bitching about the south side for years now, Bob. Why don’t you explain a) why you bought there in the first place; and b) what keeps you there, assuming you have at least some means to move out?

  5. Bob G. Says:

    Nance…I’m going to make it SO simple, even YOU will understand, OK?

    a) we bought the house on CONTRACT from my wife’s parents…for the going price – $40K.
    (not too shabby, right?)
    And it wasn’t nearly AS BAD a neighborhood THEN (10 years ago) than it is TODAY, you following so far?
    In essence, things have gotten WORSE…not better.
    And we’re still going downhuill, from where I can see it.

    b) What keep “me” here (other from the lousy housing market of late) is the fact that WE (my wife and I) have a VESTED INTEREST in this HOUSE. She grew up here, and aside from the nostalgic “value”, I actually LIKE the house….still with me?

    I’ve always lived in ROW HOMES back in Philly (and a few apartments), and having a SINGLE HOUSE is much better. I have ameniti4es I could only dream of in Philly…like a damn GARDEN…and a 2 car garage!
    For me, that’s “livin’ large”.
    Didn’t lose you yet…did I?

    When ANYONE decides to set down roots, they have said: THIS is MY HOUSE…MY responsibility…MY financial outlay…MY life.
    So who the hell has ANY right to DENY that person of what they have, regarding their American Dream?
    The thugs?
    The drug dealers?
    The scrappers?
    The burglars?
    The rapists?
    The child molesters?

    I think not.

    And if ENOUGH people felt likewise, many neighborhoods would not even BE in the possession of the criminal element. Hell, ask Phil Marx…he’ll tell you straight u, and HIS area is a lot worse than mine.

    As for moving out…when the city decides to pay US the CURRENT ASSESSED VALUE (well over $70K), instead of the paltry amount we would most likely get from placing it up for sale through a realtor or a privat sale, as most of our neighbors had to do, THEN, by God we WILL move.
    And far enough away from Fort Wayne that we can’t hear the constant blare of the police sirens or gunfire (like we do now).

    I used to have a lot more respect for you when you wrote for the paper, but unless I’m missing something, you appear to have changed…must be all that NICE (away from Fort Wayne) LIVING you’re enjoying.
    Maybe it’s menopausal?
    Say it “ain’t true”.
    BTW…thanks for reading my blog…it’s THE TRUTH (something lacking in downtown Fort Wayne these days), and not “some version” OF the truth.


  6. Nance Says:

    Thanks for making it so clear and easy to understand, Bob. I especially appreciate all the capital letters, and the gratuitous insult about menopause. Let’s see if I can respond in kind:

    You bought the house because you got a GOOD DEAL, and because it has sentimental value. 🙂 It was in a declining neighborhood THEN, and it continues to decline NOW — 😦 — but you won’t sell until you can get a price you — not the market — think it’s worth. In the meantime, you’re going to reserve the right to complain about loud cars and gunfire and whatever else bugs you at the moment because it’s your AMERICAN DREAM and everyone else has to respect it. 😉

    It sounds like you’re yet another right-wing Republican who’s out of touch with the very market forces you folks claim to revere. 😦

    Don’t feel bad. It’s probably just senility.

  7. Larry Morris Says:

    Kids, kids, kids, let’s plan nice, … I tell you what, bring your tent along and y’all can have some of my acreage.

  8. Larry Morris Says:

    oops, “play nice” – fat fingers.

  9. Nance Says:

    Well, here’s the deal, Larry, snark-free: I lived on the south side, too. And I loved it. My neighborhood was cohesive, friendly, beautiful and reasonably priced. My commute took eight minutes. I knew all my neighbors. Foster Park was at the end of the street. What’s not to love?

    Of course it had problems — all neighborhoods do. There were loud cars, some crime, occasional gunfire you could hear at night. There was a crazy old-man editorial writer nearby who neglected his yard. But the pluses outweighed the minuses, and in many ways, brought us closer together. If a neighbor’s house was broken into, we all heard about it. We sat on our porches and looked out for one another. We took the good with the bad.

    Which is one reason Bob’s regular south-side bashing of his own neighborhood drives me nuts. There was a house for sale on our street, on the market a long time. Finally the owner asked his Realtor what gives, and she confessed she was afraid to come down there, and only scheduled showings during the day. This the corner of Oakdale and Fairfield we’re talking about; it’s not exactly Crack Street.

    I guarantee you that Realtor’s perception wasn’t based on reality, but on the stories she’d heard, in part from people like Bob.

    Of course there’s crime on the south side. There’s crime everywhere, in every city. No neighborhood is absolutely safe, and every single one comes with pros and cons. Bob bought in a declining neighborhood because it was dirt-cheap and because he had a sentimental attachment to a specific house. A buyer operating on pure logic would have been warned by the price — Econ 101 — and extra-wary of the sentiment factor. (Some of the most miserable people I know are living in family homesteads, for many of the same reasons Bob is unhappy.) But once he’s there, it seems he has a choice to make: He has to work to make the neighborhood better, or shut up about it, or move. I admire urban homesteaders, really I do. They’re an important part of any revitalization effort. And I’m in sympathy with people who can’t move because their house’s value has tanked; I’m one of them.

    But every time Bob speaks up about the south side — the loud cars! the disrespectful youth! — I can’t help but think he’s part of the problem. Not the biggest one, but part of it, just the same.

  10. Larry Morris Says:

    I think I know that crazy old-man editorial writer nearby who neglected his yard. And, yes, I agree, you do have to take the good with the bad – or get out. I remember the neighborhood my Mom and sister lived in before they moved to Indy and it was bad – not only did you hear the gunfire at night, but they actually came through the wall into the house one night. So, they moved. I probably would too, no matter how much I was attached to the house I lived in. And the tent offer still stands, … :-), I still read both you guys, …

  11. Bob G. Says:

    Ooh…must have struck a nerve there…LOL

    (remember, when you toss a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that YELPS is the one that got HIT)

    I’m a “part of the problem”..yeah. that’s funny.

    I DO have the “right” to complain…as should anyone that exists under similar auspices…and I ALSO have the “right” to be LEFT THE HELL ALONE (which the locals seem fit to deny to me, as well as anyone else not doing any nasty…go figure).
    Yep…blame it on those nasty GOOD GUYS…THEY’RE causing this “problem” all right!

    Oh yeah, we tell “stories” down here…24/7/365.
    Excuse me…when you’re “smug alert” is over, try to read a newspaper…or are THEY (also) telling “stories”?
    And the TV coverage….manufactured “tales to intrigue” perhaps?

    I’m the SOLUTION, sister, but the city (nor the ACLU) won’t allow me engage in “my” particular form of “urban renewal”.

    Carolyn Coe once said it best: “Half a stick will do it”.
    And there are more than a few FWPD officers that think the area should be napalmed.
    Geneva convention prohibits that (unfortunately).

    If anything bad down here is’s only becasue it is, in fact REAL. Ask the guy that runs the BP at Anthony & McKinnie..or neighbors along the 4000 block of Reed St.

    It’s the “runaways” that helped to NO small degree to make these areas AS BAD as they are…they just can’t admit to it. Frankly, no one in this city will…plausible deniability, anyone?

    We can thank the last few decades of mayoral “involvement” for that…anyone recall when Helmke was driven to some bad areas and was approached by dealers wanting to sell HIM some crack?

    Imagine if settlers in the early days of America bugged the hell out when they were accosted by a Native American…!

    Bet you wouldn’t have EVER lived in Fort Wayne then, hmm?

    Take a damn’s YOUR neighborhood, people.

    Stroll over to the DOJ website and look up the facts as well the gang & drug threat assessment for this city, and tell me you still think all is okie-dokey.
    Better yet…look at the FWPD blotter or listen to the scanner calls…that’ll clue you in.
    I’ve BEEN working (gratis) w/ the FWPD in an attempt to make this area better and gotten mixed results
    As for contacting the city…(ever have a door closed on your foot recently?)…been hearing crickets for over 7 long years.
    Yet, a few of us still give a damn, and we keep plugging away…it’s the entire feces/wall/sticking thing.

    It’s not MY American dream…just THE American dream.
    In the meantime…if my blog drives you nuts,…DON’T READ IT…(some folks can’t stomach THE truth anyway…ask AWB about that), kapeesh?

    Meds must have kicked it, eh?
    Wow, have YOU got the wrong
    guy from Philly!


    (how BIG a tent, larry?)

  12. nellie Says:

    Thank you Nancy! You made my week.

  13. Larry Morris Says:

    Any size, Bob, we have 35 acres, …

  14. nellie Says:

    What Nancy said!

  15. tim zank Says:

    Lighten up Nance, Bob’s not bitchin’, he’s simply relaying the truth and his observations about his ‘hood. I can understand you have fond memories of the south side, I have a few of my own. I also have some vivid recollections of horrifying situations I encountered while a resident of the south side.

    You couldn’t pay me to live on South Harrison or E Wildwood (where I used to live) much less even visit where BG lives today.

    I admire him (and his wife especially) for sticking it out. If more people like Bob would stick it out, the neighborhoods wouldn’t deteriorate to crack havens and drug dens.

  16. Steve T. Says:

    “There’s crime all over Ft. Wayne.”

    What’s your point? I’ve heard that refrain before, but always from apologists, and here it is again. I even heard a local official go so far as to declare that crime all over Fort Wayne had been added up and the totals found to be identical north, south, east and west. Period.

    Even our children know better from personal experience, and so the whitewash peddlers only discredit themselves in the public eye Even the kids know where the violence lives.

    They know where the arsons occur, where the nightly gunfire is, and where the lion’s share of the armed robbers, drug trafficers, burglars, gangsters and murderers crawl from at night.

    I invite pol-statisticians in future to count up violent felonies in Fort Wayne — to record the location of each. Look up perpetrators’ addresses where known, perhaps highlighting the entries of chronic, career, and gangster offenders. Develop lists of their hang-outs and map them. Record for each violent incident (in ANY part of town) what location, neighborhood or area the perpetrator(s) fled to afterward, to elude law enforcement. While you’re at it, investigate the names and residences of those who have tried to establish and maintain drug runs via Detroit and other locales.

    Numbers can’t talk, ergo, numbers can’t lie. Tragically, we can.

    We could use more honest mathematicians in politics — and, come to think of it, social services.

  17. tim zank Says:

    Just Sept 28th:

    A quick glance at the addresses shows overwhelmingly S.E. quadrant….

  18. Bob G. Says:

    Not to go too far off the original topic, but it’s like that EVERY day on the PD blotter, people.

    And Steve…I also would invite, no ENCOURAGE these statisticians to crunch theREAL numbers.
    We’ve heard crime actually go DOWN about 13% in the city…tell that to those 25+ homicide victime last year, hmm?

    The Police (as well as other city departments) know where the “action” is…but if you ask…say Phil Marx, the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the oil all that often, if you catch my drift.

    This city has gotten away from being PROactive…they’re just REactive these days…(un)lucky for us.

    (Nellie – put down the Kool-Aid)



  19. Phil Marx Says:


    You’re saying that expecting peace and quiet in one’s home and expecting others to obey the law is evidence that one is an out of touch right-wing Republican? Wow – thanks for making me laugh.

    You seem to think the burden is upon a person to explain why they will not flee their home when being harassed by others, rather than expecting law enforcement to explain why they won’t help those people be able to remain secure in their homes.

    If you really want to know what goes on in neighborhoods such as mine and Bob’s, you need to work through a three-step process. First, read the newspapers to get the most limited scope imaginable. Then read FWPD’s daily activity reports to get some idea of what is not being told. Then, actually spend some time here.

    Once you see the number of police actions that appear to never be publicly recorded, you will quickly rach a few simple conclusions: What most people hear about what goes on in our neighborhoods is actually very far from the truth; there is a lot more serious criminal activity going on in the inner-city than in any other part of town; this information is most likely being manipulated largely for political purposes.

    Statistics don’t lie, but those who compile them often do!

    (And Leo, in case you are offended by my comment about the newspapers, I will point out that I am making a broad generalization here. I have met some local reporters who actually do have enough integrity and courage to challenge those in power over issues that really matter. However, I do not think that this accurately characterizes a majority of the members of our local media.)

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