One year ago today, we invited readers to begin sending in their questions for a new project called Ask the Truth.
Three hundred sixty-five days and 49 answered questions later, there’s still a palpable excitement to seeing what questions you all will send in next and vote for us to answer.
Thanks to your curiosity, we’ve gotten to tell the stories behind things that, quite frankly, a lot of us here at The Elkhart Truth didn’t know about or realize our readers were interested in. Whether we’ve been looking into the story behind a strange concrete block full of human teeth or the origin of black “ninja squirrels” (in one brilliant reader’s words), we’ve gotten the chance to learn more about our community along with you.
In honor of Ask the Truth’s one-year anniversary, here’s a look back at the most-read stories, as well as the rest of the questions we’ve answered so far.
TOP 10 MOST READ ASK THE TRUTH STORIES
1. What’s the story behind the “Son, Jesus still loves you” sign on S.R. 19? — Submitted by Laura Aman
For decades, a sign has stood near the corner of S.R. 19 and S.R. 119 that says, “Son, Jesus still loves you,” on one side and “Son, please come back to Jesus,” on the other. As you drive by it, you can’t help but wonder what the story behind the heartfelt sentiment is.
After some searching and quite a few dead ends, one of our reporters was able to track down the tale behind the sign.
2. Why is there a concrete block filled with human teeth near the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Riverside Drive? — Submitted by Amber Wolfe and Wendy Matz
When readers first submitted this question, some of us thought it had to be a joke. But lo and behold, we went out to the intersection to vet the claim, and there it was peeking out of the snow — a block of concrete covered in human teeth.
The community helped us track down the story of Dr. Joseph Stamp, who erected the strange monument as a tombstone for his German shepherd, Prince.
3. What are those dome-shaped structures near the intersection of C.R. 4 and C.R. 11? — Submitted by Kelly Hull and Martha Gourley
Though the dome-shaped buildings north of Elkhart look like something out of Star Wars, they’re actually geodesic domes — rounded structures that have an energy-efficient edge over plain old rectangular ones.
Ronald Swanson, who owns the domes, built them in 1972 to be used as a home and office space.
4. What’s the story behind the Elkhart County Home that once stood at Ox Bow Park? — Submitted anonymously
(Photo supplied/Elkhart County Historical Society)
At the site of what’s now Ox Bow Park, a majestic white building that housed the county’s elderly, poor and mentally ill once stood. The building, which was torn down in the 1980s due to a century’s wear and tear, served as a place for people to live who didn’t have anywhere else to go.
Our reporters looked into the Elkhart County’s Home place in history for this Ask the Truth story, as well as the people who lived there.
5. How many unsolved murders does Elkhart have? — Submitted anonymously
In 2012, a 7-year-old girl was fatally shot outside her home. In 2000, a well-known Elkhart attorney was killed after being shot through his bedroom window. In 1992, a 27-year-old man suspected of dealing crack cocaine was killed outside his home.
And the list goes on. Though the circumstances behind their deaths differ, there were 34 unsolved Elkhart homicides dating back over 40 years when this Ask the Truth story published Jan. 31.
6. What’s the story behind the Cable Line Road monster or ghost? — Submitted by Rick Howie and Dianne Rombke
We had a bit of Halloween fun with this Ask the Truth story, which takes a look back at one of Elkhart County’s most famous legends — the Cable Line Road monster or ghost.
Tellings of the story vary greatly — sometimes it’s a monster, other times it’s a ghost — but many of them involve a fatal crash at the intersection of C.R. 26 and C.R. 11, and a spirit left behind in a tree at the roads’ crossing.
7. Why did the Bullard family remove its barn and animals on C.R. 17? — Submitted anonymously
For 50 years, anyone driving down C.R. 17 has passed the 20-plus acre stretch where Kurt Bullard raised Angus cattle. The surrounding area — not to mention the traffic — has grown much busier since Kurt’s father, Herman, bought the property in the early 1960s.
But despite the changing landscape, many passing motorists and neighbors wondered what happened to a familiar part of the Elkhart scenery when the barn was dismantled and the animals were moved in spring 2014.
8. What became of G.L. Perry Variety Stores? — Submitted by Mitch Bumpus
(Photo provided / Sue Ann Hampel)
Elkhart natives are nostalgic about G.L. Perry, which opened its first store on Elkhart’s Main Street in 1939. People tell stories about saving their allowances for trips to the candy counter or basement full of toys, as well as first jobs and a sense of community surrounding the store.
The store closed in the 1990s for plain old real-world reasons — the competition created by super centers as they came onto the retail scene.
9. Why is the U.S. 20 bypass so dangerous every winter? — Submitted anonymously
If you’ve spent any time in Michiana during the winter, you’ve no doubt heard warnings to avoid the U.S. 20 bypass. And the warnings certainly have some merit — when winter weather strikes, the road often turns into a mess of accidents.
For this Ask the Truth story, we talked to officials about whether the problem’s roots are in the road’s design, drivers speeding or something else entirely.
10. Why isn’t S.R. 19 south more developed than it is? — Submitted by Anne H.
As anyone who has driven down S.R. 19 can attest, the stretch of road that connects Elkhart with Wakarusa and Nappanee passes by plenty of barns and fields, but not much else.
Unlike other heavily traveled roads in Elkhart County, the southern end of S.R. 19 is largely free of restaurants, strip malls and other businesses.
So why is it that developers haven’t built up S.R. 19 south?
MORE ASK THE TRUTH STORIES