Mt Comfort Elementary second-graders undertake a unit of study on Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley, which included not only studying his famous poems, but also seeing where he lived in Greenfield and Indianapolis, and visiting his tomb in Crown Hill Cemetery. (Jim Mayfield/Daily Reporter)
Eager learners: Students from Candy Adkins' second-grade class at Mt. Comfort Elementary School reach out to a bust of James Whitcomb Riley Thursday at the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home in Indianapolis. After the students toured Riley's home, they laid a wreath at his tomb in Crown Hill Cemetery commemorating the poet's 164th birthday. (Jim Mayfield/Daily Reporter)
INDIANAPOLIS — Though the frost was not yet on the punkin, everything else James Whitcomb Riley was in play Thursday: his big-city home, his poetry, his festival, his final resting place and children – lots and lots of children.
After two weeks of book work, four classes of Mt. Comfort Elementary School second-graders hit the road Wednesday and Thursday to find out more about Riley the man by visiting his boyhood home in Greenfield and then the stately Victorian home of Magdalena and Charles Holstein, Esq., where he lived as their working guest from 1893 until his death in 1916.
But for the kitchen, the Holstein house, now operated by the Riley Children’s Foundation as a preservation piece in Lockerbie Square just east of downtown Indianapolis, contains all the original furnishings from Riley’s day and some of the poet’s personal possessions, including his top hat and cane, a pair of shoes and a portrait of his favorite miniature French poodle, Lockerbie.
“This is the culmination of our Riley unit,” said Mt. Comfort second-grade teacher Candy Adkins as she herded her brood through the narrow Victorian hallways. “We do it every year, and it’s very popular. We study his poems, and they do them very well.”