Opinion: At 200: Forget me not

Commentary by Dick Wolfsie

Indiana is about to complete the celebration of her 200th birthday. Many stellar names are associated with our great state: Abraham Lincoln, Ernie Pyle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cole Porter, James Dean, Benjamin Harrison, John Mellencamp and Red Skelton, to name a few…instead of naming a few hundred. There are several forgotten Hoosiers who didn’t make it into the history books but who have now made it into my column. They deserve better, of course, but here is one of my favorites. More to come.

Eiffel Plasterer was a total bubble brain. The Huntington County resident had a passion for ordinary and not-so-ordinary soap bubbles. He fascinated children and adults with his demonstrations for almost a half century. Plasterer was a man of both religion and science, a contradictory combination in the 1920s when he attended DePauw University. There he became especially intrigued with bubbles and began working on the perfect solution (a concoction of soap ingredients, water and glycerin) as part of a lifelong attempt to produce an almost unbreakable bubble.

Plasterer blew bubbles at schools, church meetings, conventions, banquets and on street corners. He wrote scientific articles and lectured in schools and universities, all the time blowing his own exquisite bubbles. Bubbles within bubbles, bubbles on top of bubbles, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.

And he blew those bubbles on more TV shows than you could shake a wand at: “Real People,” “Letterman,” “Tom Snyder” and “Dick Cavett.” Plasterer also holds the record for bubble longevity, capturing a bubble inside a mason jar to protect it from air currents and keeping it intact for one day short of a year. Longer than most gerbils live.

Plasterer believed you never outgrow the joy you get by blowing bubbles, and he preached that philosophy up until he was almost 90. Eiffel Lane, named after the famous bubbleologist, now runs through Hiers Park in Huntington. Plasterer’s words still ring loud and clear: “Our hopes and dreams are the bubbles of life we are blowing. They do not all have to break.”