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                     Fairmount bids farewell to Dean
       James Byron Dean: Bad boy of the '50s.  He slouched.  And there
  was that studied, sometimes sullen smile.  And the backswept hair that
  foretold a young man moveing fast - too fast.  And the gentle voice 
  that shouted defiance during those days when Ike was in the White House.
       It has been 37(now 39) years since his name was etched in the 
  granite of his Indiana gravestone - and his image etched in the album 
  of American popular culture.
       The icon remains untarnished:
       The trio of movies in which he starred (East of Eden, Rebel Without 
  a Cause, Giant) continues to draw audiences - particularly in Europe.
       His photograph is used today to sell shoes in so prestigious a
  marketplace as The New Yorker magazine.
       His legions of fans, many born after his death, continue to make
  pilgrimages to the place on the Indiana landscape from which he came.
       The placeis along Sand Pike, a two-lane blacktop road that splits
  the otherwise-unbroken horizon of corn and soybean fields north of
  Fairmount in Grant County in north-central Indiana.
       Along the road, spread over two miles, are the shrines central to 
  the short life of James Dean, places to which the faithful flock,  
  particularly in late September near the anniversary of his death on the
  30th - "9/30/55" in the cryptic code of his fans.
       To the west of Sand Pike rises a typically Midwestern farmstead:
  Two-story, white frame home resting on a fieldstone foundation.  It has
  an expansive front porch shaded by ancient oaks and sycamores, a porch
  swing suspended from chains anchored in the roof.  There is a normal 
  complement of outbuildings, and a stream meanders through the swales
  and knolls in the land between the lawn and the tillable acreage.
       It was here, on the farm of his aunt and uncle, Marcus and Ortense
  Winslow, that James Dean grew from childhood to adolescence to maturity.
  Dean's cousin, Marcus Winslow, and his family now live here.
       A mile to the south of the Winslow farm is a church, a Quaker 
  church.  The Back Creek Friends Meeting.  A circular drive approaches 
  the red brick building.  True to Quaker and Midwestern values, the 
  church is unadorned.  A mural of Christ as shepherd is the focal point
  of the sanctuary, bathed in white light filtered through sharply vertical
  and colorless windows.
       And yet another mile to the south, is a cemetery.  Park Cemetery.  
  As old as the Quaker community it was created to serve back before the
  Civil War, it is the place where Fairmount, a community of 3,286, buries
  its dead.
       Fairmount, wrote Stewart Stern in his movie script for The James
  Dean Story, is "not just a quaint little town, but a useful town, used
  well and long by its people."
       Joseph Winslow, an ancestor of James Dean, established the first
  farm in Fairmount Township of Grant County in 1830 - on the site that
  is now the Marcus Winslow farm.
       In 1850, a community was formed, which chose to call itself Pucker.
       Pucker it was, and Pucker it remained, until 1870, when community
  dissatisfaction with the moniker led to a renameing: Fairmount, 
  suggested by Joseph W. Balwin, who was attracted by the name of a park
  in Philadelphia.  Fairmount was incorporated on Dec. 10, 1870.
       While James Dean may be the most widely celebrated son of Fairmount,
  he is not alone.  Among others:
       Jim Davis, creator of the Garfield cartoon strip.
       Phil Jones, former White House correspondent for CBS News.
       Mary Jane Ward, author of the novel Snake Pit, an indictment of
  mental health facilities in the late 1940's.
       Alvin Seal, an ichthyologist credited with major contributions
  to the classification of Asiatic fish.
       Robert Sheets, current director of the National Hurricane Center.
       David Payne, a principal player in the creation of Oklahoma
  Territory.  He was the original Sooner.
       In Park Cemetery, surrounded by the past generations of Fairmount, 
  is a granite gravestone, made remarkable only by the perpetual presence     
  of flowers, real and artificial.
       The stone is a reddish pink, pock-marked by the work of pilgrims
  who would take a fragment of the stone as a relic.
       It is the final resting place of
                          James B. Dean
       The stone is the second on the grave.  The original was stolen in
  1983 and was replaced before it was recovered in Fort Wayne in 1987.
       It is to this place more than any other that the Dean faithful come.
  They arrive in all seasons, at all times, in all vehicles.  Most conduct
  themselves with dignity; others, so eager for souvenirs, will strip an
  ear of corn from a stalk in the field across the road and take it away.
       Among those who come to this place, especially in late September,
  are those who knew him.
       On the afternoon of each September 30 since 1956 the family, 
  friends and followers of the actor who brooded his way into national
  character have assembled at Back Creek Friends Church and at Park
  Cemetery to play out a small drama of tribute.  The roles have been set 
  by tradition.
       There was the late Ortense Winslow, a reluctant participant for
  whom the role became more burdensome each year.  She and her late 
  husband, Marcus, reared the young man who blazed across the screen and
  crashed in flames at 5:45 PM on Sept. 30, 1955, at a rural intersection
  in San Luis Obispo County, Calif.
/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/fun/dean1.txt · Last modified: 2000/01/16 13:21 (external edit)