Growing Up in Manilla, Indiana

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When I was in 2nd grade, my parents bought an old house in the center of the small town of Manilla, Indiana.  We gave our pet dairy cow to my grandfather and moved to the “big city” – or so it seemed because both of my parents had lived on farms their whole lives and this was their first experience with having neighbors.  In reality, Manilla is about 2 blocks wide and 6 blocks deep.  It had two gas stations, a general store, a hardware store, a blacksmith, a beauty parlor (in someone’s home), an antique store (open by appointment only), a post office, two churches, a small town doctor, a volunteer fire station, and a bank.  It also had a school that was all 12 grades, then went down to 8 grades, then 6, and finally closed and was torn down.  The school was the focal point of the town for us kids, because we always hung out at the playground there.

Manilla was a great place to grow up.  It was a safe environment and everyone in the town knew each other.  I never could imagine myself living anywhere else.  My best friend lived there (and still does), and my best pets are buried there.  The town has changed a lot since I lived there, as many of the old buildings have been torn down.  The house where I grew up has not been maintained and looks like it’s about to fall down.  Most of my friends are gone; they have either moved away (or, sadly, died).  However, I always get homesick when I go back there because that town holds memories of some of the best times of my life.

For all of my friends from Manilla, both past and present:   Below are the words to John Denver’s song “Friends with You.”  I offer this song for you, as I will always consider you as my friends.

What a friend we have in time, gives us children, makes us wine
Tells us what to take or leave behind
And the gifts of growing old, are the stories to be told
Of the feelings more precious than gold

Friends, I will remember you, think of you, pray for you
And when another day is through, I’ll still be friends with you

Babies days are never long; Mother’s laugh is baby’s song
Gives us all the hope to carry on

Friends, I will remember you, think of you, pray for you
And when another day is through. I’ll still be friends with you

Friends, I will remember you, think of you, pray for you
And when another day is through, I’ll still be friends with you

My friends, I will remember you, think of you, pray for you
And when another day is through, I’ll still be friends with you.

For those of you interested in Manilla, please watch this page as I will add to it as I find photos.

Kessler’s General Store and the grain elevator.
The elevator has been torn down since this was taken.

Left: Kessler’s Store
Middle: Branson’s Gas Station
Right: Church

Back of grain elevator


Old shed in Manilla


Antique Store

This is a photo of me taken by a local newspaper when I sculpted a lion out of snow.  My high school was the Rushville Lions. This was taken in the front yard of the house where I grew up.  I believe this was in early 1977.  Fuzzy was my shadow; she had a bad leg and hopped around on her three good legs, but it never slowed her down.  She died in 1988 and I still miss her.


I made this bumper sticker for my first car, which was a green 1971 Chevrolet Belaire that I inherited from my maternal grandfather. I loved that car, and called it “Pickle.”

arlington band croppedMy 8th grade band at Arlington Jr. High.  My teacher was Mr. Crosley (in back, with moustache); he was very nice, and a great teacher.  I’m in the 2nd row, third from the right.

rchs dance bandMy high school dance band (Freshman year).  I am in the 1st row, 1st one on the right.  I played baritone sax.


This is a mascot that my art class made.  I believe it was in 1976.  The boy posing in the picture was killed in an auto accident after graduation.

6 Comments to Growing Up in Manilla, Indiana

  1. Janet says:

    I love these pictures, especially of you and the Lion! Lots of good memories of visiting you there!

    • dutchy says:

      Thank you, Janet! I wish we could go back to those times, even for a day. You are a wonderful friend who I will always cherish.

  2. Kevin Harr says:

    Hi Karen, would you like to share these with the group If you grew up or around Rushville Remember when.

  3. Michael says:

    My best early years were in Manilla. I had to move in the 3rd grade – I think in about 1973-1974ish. But I remember Kessler’s when I wanted bubble gum or a Coke, Dr. Sheets when I got sick, and the tractor pulls at the Lion’s Club! And of course, my many aunts uncles that lived there as well. These pictures brought back some really good memories! Thanks!

  4. Lou Ann Chancy says:

    Although, I didn’t grow up in Manilla, (went to school at Union Twp)we often visited there, and I still love to visit. Such a neat little town back then and gives one the nostalgic feelings when visiting. Thanks for the memories.

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