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Students learn about life on the farm

By Roger Moon
Bedford Times-Mail
April 11, 2010

ORLEANS — A farmhouse northeast of Orleans will be the site next month for an Ivy Tech Community College noncredit course called “Relive the 1940s.”

Leading the class will be Judith Burton, who lives in the historic house that’s part of what she calls Burton Kimble Farm. Joining Burton in the class will be Vesta Lou Hubbard of Orleans. Hubbard is described in the Ivy Tech catalog as an “85-year-old historian, storyteller and humorist.” Hubbard also is well-versed on topics associated with the most prominent events of the ’40s — those surrounding World War II.

The class is not the first to meet at Burton Kimble Farm and in the house that Burton said is “well over 100 years old.” A baking class wrapped up there last week. A calligraphy class began on Tuesday, and Burton, in April, will teach a women’s class on aging gracefully. In May, Burton will instruct a three-session class called “Uncluttering Your Mind, Life and Surroundings.”

While a class about the 1940s necessarily will focus heavily on World War II and the political climate and implications surrounding it, Hubbard said, “There is so much more to the ’40s than a John Wayne movie.”
The class will meet from 1 to 3 p.m. on four consecutive Thursdays beginning April 15. The cost is $47 and registration can be arranged by calling Ivy Tech at 812-330-6041.

“This is not a lecture class,” Burton said. “This is fun, interactive sharing kind of class.”

She added, “I am not a historian. I do not know, from an academic standpoint, about the 1940s, but the reason I’m interested is that I was born in 1944. What was the war like? ... There are several reasons why you would want to come (to the class). To learn what your friends and family lived through, I’m interested in that.”

Burton said the farmhouse was occupied for many years by Rosa Wright Kimble, a longtime schoolteacher who was born in 1900 and was in her 90s at the time of her death. Burton, who grew up north of Mitchell, came to know Kimble because the house was next to Burton’s grandparents’ house.

“Rosa left her property to my family,” Burton said. “My family always farmed the land. There has been a long family relationship.”
Burton lived in Michigan for 30 years and was head of fashion merchandising for Northwood University. She has returned to Burton Kimble Farm to live. But, as an educator and trainer, she conducts workshops for business and community groups domestically and around the world.

Burton was particularly eager to bring classes to Burton Kimble Farm.

“The idea of bringing them here was my idea,” she said, “wanting to establish this as a learning center and as a gathering place — my home.”

She said of the ’40s class, “The goal of having them come here to the farm is that it’s a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a friendly atmosphere. It’s a welcoming atmosphere. We will gather around checkered tables. We will share memories.”

Burton said the arrangement evolved after she met with Susie Graham from Ivy Tech’s Center for Lifelong Learning. “She was interested in my ideas for a senior program,” Burton said. Burton suggested classes she could offer. “As I did that, I proposed that some of the classes would be here, and Susie liked that idea,” Burton said.

Concerning the ’40s class, Burton said, “I am not an expert on the ’40s. I am interested in the 1940s. ... I’m interested in what my parents were experiencing and what the world was like.”

She praised Hubbard’s contributions to the class.

“Vesta Lou brings to the class a vast memory, experiences and the ability to share facts and humor with other people. She lived it. She remembers it. In her career (working at what later came to be known as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), she was in a prime spot and can relate to the war in a way that no one else can. Again, she lived it. She has studied it. She knows the people. She felt the pulse ... and she shares all of that with the participants.”

Burton and Hubbard led their first “Relive the 1940s” class last year at Bell Trace, a Bloomington retirement community. More than 40 attended the class.

Hubbard said, “You saw old veterans turn into young men again. ... They realized that people really wanted to know what they did (in the war), and they opened up.”

Times-Mail Staff Writer Roger Moon welcomes comments at 277-7253 or via e-mail at roger@tmnews.com.


Jackie Easterday, left, and Debbie Unger take suggestions from students after class at the Burton Kimble Farm. Garet Cobb | Times-Mail

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