July 11, 2017, Van Wert, OH- My drive from Elkhart and Goshen was uneventful, until I reached the Ohio state line. I had an idea, that I might stay in Lima, a northwest Ohio town, with a Baha’i connection (one of the early American Baha’i teachers was from there.) That went out the window, as soon as I reached the first Ohio highway rest area. Rain began falling, copiously, to say the least. Thunder and lightning were, of course, a huge part of the mix.
I then and there decided to make my way to the closest town, Van Wert. It was the right move. No sooner had I checked into downtown Van Wert’s only motel, than a tornado alert came on the cellphone, and the motel manager began the process of evacuating her family, and all of us tenants, to the YMCA tornado shelter, across the street.
We spent about forty minutes in the Y’s basement, before the all-clear was sounded. The twister had struck a town just north of Van Wert, but left us alone. The night, after that, was peaceful.
Here is the undisturbed scene, the next morning, at Fountain Inn and at the Y.
By now, Van Wert had grown on me, so a little exploration was in order. There are two fine breakfast places in town. I chose Truly Divine Bakery, figuring a little hubris is merited by people who have to live under the threat of tornadoes. The other place, Balyeat’s, lists itself as “nationally known”, so I also thought Divine needed a boost. The place has exemplary pastries, and marvelous breakfast sandwiches, so it was the right choice. A group of A.M. Lions was having their meeting at Divine, so that was another good sign.
Midwest towns are, on the whole, homey, clean and standard. There are often one or two surprises, though. Van Wert has an impressive Courthouse.
It also boasts Brumback Library, the first county public library in the U.S.
Finally, there is the Marsh Foundation for Children and Families, serving the needs of high-risk children, since 1922, when George and Herlinda Marsh, a prominent Van Wert couple, saw the need for such a center in northwest Ohio. The spacious campus now tends to the needs of young people, from all over the country.
So, Van Wert is a solid community, and well worth the time taken. I stayed on U.S. 30, driving through Lima, but continuing on, in the interests of time, and of not knowing when another storm would present itself. The highway did take me to two other appealing cities: Mansfield and Canton, subjects of the next two posts.