Hoosiers, Hoosiers Everywhere

Week of April 9, 2003

Hoosiers, Hoosiers Everywhere
The hoosiering of America: Just read your "hoosier" article and enjoyed it very much [Mike Seely, "Hoosiers," March 26]. I contemplated writing such an article a few years ago, but yours is much better than I could ever have managed. You clearly took the trouble to talk to many people, assembling many opinions, and the results are excellent.

I agree completely that "there's a little bit of hoosier in all of us." An interesting comment on this fact was made by the critic Roger Shattuck a number of years ago, in a review of a book on the American South by V.S. Naipaul. In this review, Shattuck referred to a "reddening of America" -- an obvious play on the title of a possibly long-forgotten, for the most part preposterous book from back in the '60s entitled The Greening of America. That greening never happened, but a reddening is in fact happening all around us.

Each year, in my opinion, popular culture becomes more and more infused with values which are in at least some part redneck or, as we in the St. Louis area say, hoosier values. And insofar as we are influenced by popular culture, which we of course cannot help but be, we become more and more "reddened," which is to say more hoosierish all the time. We may not like it, but this is our future.
Keith Spoeneman
via the Internet

Seely unfair to Granite Citians: Thanks to Mike Seely for helping to reinforce the negative stereotype of Granite City and its residents. Along with "dirty" and "stinking," we can also apparently add "hoosier-ridden."

Although the article says, "There's a little bit of hoosier in all of us," there is no doubt that the hoosier part is a definite negative. As for why there were several dozen patrons at Hooch and Sixteen's at four o'clock in the afternoon while "most of the St. Louis adult population" was at work, could it be that some of them just got off the day shift at the local steel mill? As for Rosco Villa, you could have chosen to identify him as an "Edwardsville native" instead of "Granite City hoosier," or just plain "hoosier."

Your article was interesting in explaining the use of the term in the St. Louis area, but you did a serious disservice to the Granite City and Soulard communities in the process.
Patricia Goclan
Granite City, Illinois

Seely nearly makes reader cry: I had the most terrible week last week, and Mike Seely's article almost had me crying, I was laughing so hard. Not to mention the fact that now I know for sure that I am, in fact, a hoosier too! Thank you so much for bringing something funny and lighthearted to the table in such a drab and depressing time.
Liz Wolfe
via the Internet

Widening the hoosier net: I found "Hoosiers" quite interesting. However, I disagree with your statement that "hoosier," as a derogatory term, is limited to a tight radius around St. Louis.

I grew up in Murray, Kentucky, and I knew the derogatory meaning of "hoosier" long before I moved to St. Louis. For us, a hoosier was equivalent to a redneck. I have Kentucky friends who live in Louisville and who won't move across the river into Indiana (where land is cheaper) because they don't want to live among the "hoosiers." And they use the term not politely.

Maybe "hoosier" is more of a Midwest term than you think it is.
Krystel Mowery
via the Internet

Laurie is a hoosier: Your article about hoosiers was very entertaining and hilarious! And very true! I have lived here all my life, and I am beginning to think that the majority of people here are "hoosiers" -- but I guess I could be classified as one as well sometimes, because after a night of drinking, White Castle doesn't sound bad!
Laurie Mason
via the Internet

Jim's probably a hoosier, too: In Mike Seely's article, I didn't find a reference to the quintessential hoosier icon: the person wearing a KSHE shirt with the pig smoking a joint, maybe with a pack of Marlboros rolled up in the sleeve.
Jim Moody
via the Internet

Ashley? An out-of-town hoosier: Your hoosier article was hilarious and ironically timed. I am a freshman at Fontbonne University and was quickly introduced to the local usage of the word "hoosier" upon moving to St. Louis from my native Columbia, Missouri. Being that the majority of my classmates have grown up locally, they have also grown up using the word in excess. It wasn't long until I was filling in my friends back home on the local meaning of "hoosier" and how it is rarely left out of a sentence. The funny thing is that when I tell my new St. Louis friends that people everywhere don't use the term with the same definition, they are absolutely stunned. It is beyond them that everyone doesn't use "hoosier" regularly. Perhaps this astonishment is another hoosier characteristic -- the lack of acknowledgment of people and places outside of St. Louis.

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