Farewell to Matt Smith, who is retiring from the Albion Fire Department after 14 years of service. Matt, in addition to being an active firefighter and the AFD Secretary for several years, formerly served on the Albion Town Council, and was also an EMT with the Noble County EMS.



Here Fire Chief Brad Rollins, on the left, presents Matt with his helmet shield as a token of appreciation for his years of service.
(Matt, who works full time as a technical writer, is no relation to Doctor Who, although I've always felt his heart is bigger on the inside.)

The Albion Fire Department's annual fish fry -- which happens annually -- will be Wednesday, June 7th, during the Chain O' Lakes Festival. We're also having tenderloin again this year, for those of you inclined, although I can't imagine why you'd want to pass on the breaded fish. It's all you can eat, and you can't beat that unless you're a diet doctor.

I can't be there (I'll be helping to bread the fish earlier in the day, and it's one of those scheduling things where I can't do both). However, they tell me copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department will be on sale at the fish fry, for $9.95. That's our book about the history of the fire department: Proceeds from book sales, as with the fish fry itself, go to the Albion Fire Department's equipment and training fund.

 So come and support your local emergency volunteers! It's from 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Albion Fire Station, 210 Fire Station Drive, on the east end of town.  (It's traditional, when a town has a Fire Station Drive, to build the fire station there.) Price for adults is $10, for children $6, with children 5 and under eating free.


Emily and I selling pre-orders of Smoky Days at the fish fry just before its publication.


Why we do it: Albion firefighters attack a training fire. I'm particularly proud of this photo, because I didn't die taking it.

ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Apr. 15th, 2017 03:55 pm)

I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:

That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.

I just learned that Arcadia Publishing has discounted all their Central U.S. books until Sunday. It turns out Indiana's in the Central U.S., so my and Emily's book, Images of America: Albion and Noble County, is also discounted--by 35%, which is no slouch by discount standards. Check it out here:




It's the one with all the cool historical pictures about, you guessed it, Albion and Noble County. And it gives you a break from hearing me talk about Radio Red! I mean, for now.



ozma914: (ozma914)
( Jan. 16th, 2017 10:03 pm)
In all the fuss that this winter has been so far, I haven't mentioned the fact that December 13th was the 25th anniversary of my employment at the Noble County Sheriff Department.

I started out as a jail officer, and after a few years moved to dispatch: first on second shift, then on a swing, and finally to thirds, where I've worked ever since. In fact, I've worked there for so long that in a few years I'm qualified to retire at full pension; although that's not going to happen until I'm selling enough books to pay the difference (and insurance). In fact, I've actually done this job for longer than anything else in my life, except parenting, firefighting, and breathing.

They gave me a really nice certificate, which will go on my office wall:

That's me in the middle. All three of us in the photo are volunteer firefighters in addition to being members of Noble County Communications. On the right is my direct supervisor, John Urso. If we had a ladder truck he'd be a truckie: tall and hard headed. He's so tough, Chuck Norris goes across the street to avoid him. His glare has made dispatch trainees literally melt. And guess who has to clean it up? Yep: me. Third shift vacuums.

On the left is Mitch Fiandt, who's been there so long his employee number starts with a minus. When Mitch started dispatching, he had to alert the police by ringing the nearest church bell. He'd call out the fire department by starting a signal fire, which if you think about it is pretty ironic. On the fire department his area of expertise is apparatus operation, but he's had trouble getting used to those newfangled internal combustion engines.

I know what you're thinking: "Mark, can you make fun of age after hitting the big two five?" Well, at my age it's all I can do. All I can say is that when I started out, we didn't have computers in dispatch or in fire trucks. Now I've got a computer in my pocket, and it even makes phone calls.

Other people have on occasion suggested I write a book about my experiences in the emergency communications.


Not while I'm still employed.

I'm not sure we'll be able to make the holiday pops concert at the school in Albion tonight, due to some (by which I mean a lot) of illness in the family. Still, I hope everyone else will go and support the Fort Wayne Philharmonic coming to our little town. It starts at 7:30, they sell tickets at the door, and the Facebook event page is here:


Meanwhile, happy birthday to my lovely wife Emily, whose birthday means the days will now start getting longer! She's been feeling under the weather for, oh, the entire month of December--in fact, this whole autumn has been one thing after another for our family. Here's hoping winter will go better, even if it isn't my season.


ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Dec. 14th, 2016 05:17 pm)

The Fort Wayne Philharmonic is coming to Albion for a holiday pops concert, and that’s pretty cool.

So … let’s go! It’s where I’m taking my wife for her birthday, because I’m a cheap date. Come to the Central Noble High School auditorium on December 21st, from 7:30-9 p.m., and get in the spirit with some honest to goodness great music, of the classical/seasonal variety.

Here’s the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1097909366961263/

Remember, whenever you miss a holiday pops concert, an angel loses its wings. Then he wanders around in the snow, cold and depressed, and aren’t we going to see enough of that in January?

I can't say we did all that well at our most recent author appearance ... in fact, we took a loss, because I bought some stuff myself. My theory is that we went to the well too often: All three of this year's book signings happened within six months, and within less than a mile of each other. In addition, it was our third trip to the Noble Art Gallery, which is still the only business that sells signed copies of all our print books. (Including Hoosier Hysterical.)


But that's the way it goes, and sometimes the connections and promotion work has more down-the-road benefits than the appearances themselves. Besides, now I can use this to guilt people into buying our books, which (by the way) make great Christmas gifts.


Besides, Dan Gagen had some Albion related books out on display, and a collection of old issues from The Noble County American, the Albion newspaper his father ran for something like a billion years, so I spent my time in historical hog heaven. I even found a thirty-five year old photo of myself, which I may or may not someday show people. And the view from his front window is something else:


If you look closely, you'll see members of the Albion Lions Club selling citrus on the Noble County Courthouse Square. I sneaked over and got my orange/grapefruit mix box.


The view looking inside ain't so bad, either. See anything you're interested in?


You want art? 100 E. Main Street, Albion. You're welcome.


Note the table made of books. I have several towers of books stacked around my house, but they weren't intended as furniture.


Just as a reminder, the Noble Art Gallery in Albion is the only place where you can go in person to buy all the books we have out in print, whether we’re there or not. Well, the only one I know of. Add that to all the other artists who have their work up for sale there, and you can see why it’s an important business to support—just like we should be supporting all local businesses.
Snow willing, Emily and I will be there tomorrow from 1-5 p.m., to sign books, say hello, and show off the new book cover. Please stop by and see us at the old Black Building, 100 E. Main Street. Remember, every time you skip an author appearance, an artist paints a mime. If you think white mimes are scary, wait until you see a painted one.



In this photo, police block main roads and crowds begin to line up days in advance of Mark R Hunter’s author appearance at the Noble Art Gallery. The first person in line told reporters, “I’m actually just here to ask his wife Emily how she puts up with his genius eccentricities.” Several thousand people were expected …



Okay, not really; the photo is from the Albion Christmas parade. But that is where we’ll be this coming Saturday, from 1-5 p.m.—the old Black Building at 100 E. Main Street, now the Noble Art Gallery.

We’ll have all our books, including the latest one, Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All. Also, we just finished printing out the front and back covers of our newest book, so you can get a look at it far ahead of the scheduled March 7th release date. No police line required.

Traditionally I post my author appearance press releases here, and is this not a traditional time of the year? So here's what I sent out to various newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, and all the ships at sea, and it might even end up being used somewhere. If you want to use it--you're welcome to.

However, I would discourage you from starting up your own TV station for the sole purpose of displaying my press release on the screen. You'd be surprised at the initial investment, plus there's the whole part about actual programming.





December 11th will mark the 200th anniversary of the state of Indiana’s formation, and two Hoosier authors are celebrating a day early with an appearance in downtown Albion.


Mark R. Hunter’s newest book, written with his wife Emily, is all about Indiana, and created with the bicentennial in mind. Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All, is a tongue-in-cheek look at Hoosier History, personalities, and trivia. The Hunters spent almost two years researching and touring the state, and the book is illustrated with photos they took on their travels.


The Hunters already collaborated on two local history books: Images of America: Albion and Noble County, and Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. In addition, Mark Hunter has five other published books, four of them fictional works set in Indiana.


Mark and Emily will be appearing from 1-5 p.m. December 10th at the Noble Art Gallery, 100 E. Main Street, in Albion. The gallery holds the works of artist/owner Dan Gagen, as well as over twenty other area talents, and features items ranging from wall art to jewelry and pottery. They also have the books by the Hunters, who have visited twice before.


In addition, the event will serve to unveil Mark Hunter’s newest novel, which is scheduled to be published March 7, 2017 by Torrid books. Hunter hasn’t announced the book’s title, but its cover has been approved and will be on display at the appearance, along with all of his previous books.



Hoosier Hysterical and all the Hunters’ books can be found at http://markrhunter.com/, and on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.



Mark R Hunter can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter/, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter





Thanks to everyone at the Noble County Public Library who made us feel at home in the main branch, in Albion. We had a great time! Some friends stopped to visit, and we sold close to two dozen books.


Now--get this--we're going to do the whole thing all over again. Yep, we'll be appearing December 10th at the Noble Art Gallery, also in Albion (at 100 E. Main Street). Details to follow, naturally, but they're the only place where you can regularly buy all of our books, so please support the gallery and all its wonderful art.


And ... we'll have something for you to see when we appear. A surprise. *evil laugh* Now, library photos:


Here's the table Emily set up. It was a great location!


Here's a look at the inside of the library. It gives you a warm feeling during the day, although when night falls it seems a little dark.
(I mean, even with the lights on.)
Plus a great view through that big window!

Here's Emily's iPad photo of how everything looked after she set it up! All I had to do was sit there and look pretty. I mean, handsome.


Here's a look at the press release I sent out for next Wednesday's author appearance; feel free to send it to your own newspaper, radio station, or TV station, and by your own I mean if you own it, I'm free for interviews. If you own several, I'm free for syndication. And if you run a blog that features writers, I'm just free. The books aren't free ... but they're cheap, just like me.
A husband and wife writing team are coming to the Noble County Public Library’s main branch in Albion this November, to help introduce their newest book.
Mark R. Hunter and Emily Hunter will be at the library in Albion Wednesday, November 16, from 3-7 p.m. They spent almost two years roaming Indiana to produce Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All. Written to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial, the tongue-in-cheek book pokes fun at Hoosier History and trivia.
Although Mark did most of the writing and got his name on the cover, he insists his wife did most of the work: Emily designed the cover, formatted and edited the book, traveled around the state with him on research missions, then edited and added photos they took along the way.
Despite all the research, the Hunters say the book is mainly for fun or, as they put it in the forward, “So sit back and learn something fun about history. When you’re done, read this book.”
The pair previously collaborated on two local history books: Images of America: Albion and Noble County, and Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. They also put together a collection of Mark’s humor columns, Slightly Off the Mark. Mark is also a humor columnist and the author of three novels: Storm Chaser, The Notorious Ian Grant, and The No-Campfire Girls, as well as the story collection Storm Chaser Shorts. All of their printed works will be available at the appearance.
Hoosier Hysterical and all the Hunters’ books can be found at http://markrhunter.com/, and on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.
Mark R Hunter can be reached by e-mail at markrichardhunter@gmail.com.
 He can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter/, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter
Two years ago the Noble County Public Library hosted me for a book signing at their Albion branch. We were prepared for everything but the weather, which dumped an ice storm on us that day. People should not leave their houses during an ice storm, not even for books (although I did sell a few).
The nice people at the library said they’d make it up to me by hosting another author appearance, but I never got around to scheduling one—until now. The date we picked this time was November 16, before the holidays start in earnest but hopefully after everyone’s recovered from the election. And, most importantly, it would be well before our really crappy weather usually sets in, so we’d avoid another icy interruption.
Or at least that’s what I thought, until I checked the date of that previous signing two years ago: November 17.
I don’t think one day is going to make that much of a difference, so … fingers crossed.
Just the same, we hope to see everyone at the library on Wednesday, November 16, from 3-7 p.m. We’ll sign and sell books, answer questions or comments (as long as they’re not about the election), and smile. Keep us company!
Remember, every time a writer gets lonely in public, the ghost of Edger Allen Poe’s ghost haunts a raven. Save a raven’s sanity.

We just got confirmed for an author appearance at the Noble County Public Library’s main branch, in Albion. Emily and I both plan to be there (with bunches of books), from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, November 16. More detail will follow, but mark your calendars … or, Mark and Emily your calendars … whatever makes you remember it.

Here are some photos from last week’s introduction of the Albion Bicentennial Mural, part of the year-long celebration of Indiana’s 200th anniversary. There was a good crowd there on a dreary day, which included an appearance by the Bicentennial Torch that’s been touring around. Oh, and it’s also the Bison-tennial:

Bison-tennial! Get it? Never mind.
The mural was designed by Wolf Lake resident Daniel McDonald, an art major in his junior year at the University of Saint Francis. Here’s an appreciative crowd just after the unveiling of the mural, which graces the south side of the Noble County Economic Development Corporations building—which we old timers tend to call the old Albion Town Hall.

It’s very cool. Here’s a closer look, which is a bit out of perspective because it’s tall and I’m not as tall as I used to be. There are now two murals on this block—the same block that includes an antique store and the Noble Art Gallery building. It’s an art block!

The home at top right was that of Gene Stratton-Porter, one of Indiana’s more famous authors. And yes, I have three books involving Indiana history, but my home is two blocks further south … I won’t count until we expand it to be an art neighborhood.
ozma914: (ozma914)
( Aug. 21st, 2016 05:19 am)


I turned in the list of Albion firefighters from throughout our 225 (or so) year history … or at least, all the names I could find after a fairly exhaustive search. They’re to go on a plaque that will be displayed at the fire station.

I came up with 197 firefighters. I’m sure there are more, but it’s become a game of diminishing returns—at the moment I just don’t have time to pour over microfilms of 100 year old newspapers in the hopes of stumbling across one name (although that does sound kind of fun. I’m strange). A wintertime project maybe, depending on how my writing time goes. I hope there will be some light bulb moments out there, and more people will send names in.

Meanwhile, I also compiled AFD fire chiefs, and even managed to fill in some holes that were in my original list, published in Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights. Here’s what I have:





1887-1888                   A.J. Denlar

1888-1894                   William E. Worden

1895-1997                   ?

1898                            J.O. Russell Jr.

1899-1903                   ?

1904                            Edward A. Kunkle

1905-1912                   ?

1913-1916                   Charles Callahan  (resigned 5/1/16)

1916-1930                   John Gatwood (nomination approved 6/5/16)

1930-1934                   ?

1935-1952                   Harry Campbell

1952-1954                   Byron K. Smith

1954-1959                   Harry Metz

1959-1963                   Robert Beckley

1963-1969                   Al Jacob

1970-1971                   James Applegate

1971-1973                   Edward Moorhouse

1974-1975                   Terry Campbell

1975-1981                   James Applegate

1982-1993                   Larry Huff

1994-1997                   Bob Beckley

1998-2001                   Kevin Libben

2002-2008                   Gregg Gorsuch

2009-2010                   Brad Rollins

2011-2012                   Tim Lock

2013-2015                   Steve Bushong

2015-2016                   John Urso

2016-present               Brad Rollins



I never did get around to posting all my photos from Albion's ALL-IN Block Party ... and I also haven't been able to spend much time at the fire station lately, So I'll make up for it by combining the two, with a look at the Albion Fire Department's booth at the event (which you may remember happened in late June).



I was around the corner with the other authors at the time, but I sneaked away a couple of times to grab some photos. One was this, of the AFD's area--which, as it happened, was on the same block as the location of Albion's first firehouse, built in 1887. While I was selling books, so were the firefighters: They distributed some copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. Of course, proceeds from sales of that book go to the AFD. The truck on the right is one of our two four wheel drive brush fire/first responder trucks.



Here's a closer look at the hose reel, which you might be surprised to know is no longer an in-service apparatus. As near as my research can tell, this is the third of the AFD's three hose reels, which means it dates to around 1900. Most of today's fire engines carry a pump, hose, ladder, and water tank. The hose reel carried just hose and nozzles, working in conjunction with the town's hand-pumped fire engine and hook & ladder wagon. Why separate? Because they had to be light: They were pulled to the fire by hand!



After a hand-pumped engine and then a horse-drawn chemical wagon, this was Albion's first gasoline powered fire engine: a 1929 Buffalo Fire Apparatus Co. truck on a Chevy chassis. It carried 450 feet of hose, along with ladders and hand tools, and a 35 gallon chemical tank that was basically a big pressurized fire extinguisher. Best of all, it could pump an amazing 300 gallons of water per minute, and didn't need a team of firefighters operating a hand pump to do it. You have to wonder why they didn't go ahead and put a roof on it, though.


ozma914: (Courthouse)
( Jul. 23rd, 2016 10:02 pm)
A storm's coming in, but right now downtown Albion looks pretty good.

The Welcome Center for the Noble County ALL-IN Block Part opens at 9 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday), and the opening ceremony is from 9:30-10 a.m. After that all the Community Partner Booths open, including the 15 (or maybe 16!) authors at the Noble County libraries location, on the southwest corner of the courthouse square in Albion. The entertainment goes on until 3 p.m. 

Emily and I tend to be night owls, so be there early to help us stay awake! In addition to our newest book, Hoosier Hysterical, we’ll have copies of all seven of our print books available. Only my e-book story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts, is not available in print.

Hoosier Hysterical is priced at only $10, even with all the photos … and don’t be surprised if we have some deals going for those who want multiple books.




ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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