Bremen is the "Lake Wobegon" of rural Indiana -- a town that time forgot and decades can't improve. For many years, its tiny downtown was anchored by the Lehman Mint Distillery. Big bowls of Lehman church mints awaited worshippers in the lobbies of many local chapels. When the factory was running, the entire downtown smelled like mint. Nearby, the quaint Bremen Theater showed moves on weekends, and in summer, before each matinee, the projectionist came forward to announce the latest scores of Little League games underway in Sunnyside Park.
For one week before Independence Day, the Firemen's Festival drew crowds to the park each night to enjoy Leuhr's Wild Rides and homemade fair food including pies by Amish neighbors. The week began with a parade led by the high school band, followed by fire trucks from all surrounding towns, with sirens blasting. Passengers on the trucks threw hard candies to excited kids waiting on the curbs. The town dentist also had a float -- a giant tooth -- from which his hygienists tossed the children containers of floss. The week ended with fireworks, but before it started, before the band marched by, as afternoon sun cast long shadows on the street, the keynote was struck by Salem United Methodist Church (the brick church on the left in this photo), where the minister was blind but had memorized the floor plan of the sanctuary so well that visitors never knew he was sightless. Promptly at 6 p.m. while families waited quietly in lawn chairs on the sidewalks, the church bells would peel, "This land is my land, this land is your land," and the fun would begin. Ah, the age of innocence. See you there?