Not coming back.

I don’t usually look to the Journal Gazette for poignance, but I found it today in a typically underwritten column about a Hoosier who couldn’t wait to get quit of the place, and the family who just couldn’t understand.

Read between the lines, and you see the outlines of what seems to be a remarkable individual, this Eric Johnson who traveled the world for decades: I’m guessing he was gay, although that’s only a guess based on the lifestyle-and-choices stereotypes (ballet and bachelorhood); curious about the world outside Fort Wayne; highly intelligent; restless.

Indiana loves to proudly claim native sons and daughters only after the local narrow-mindedness and Siberian cultural conditions have driven them far away to make their fortunes. It would seem that Johnson is only another in a long series, minus the fame.

Jeff Clark will never know why his brother chose to spend his life roaming the world. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to be like the people in his hometown, working humdrum jobs and going home to the same house where they would eventually die, never having left the corner of the world where they were born.

Maybe? You think?

Posted at 11:02 am in Uncategorized |

3 responses to “Not coming back.”

  1. Dan McAfee said on February 22, 2004 at 11:42 am


    It was really a fantastic article, not at all what I’m used to from the front page of any paper. If Clark has written about his brother in the past, I’ve missed it, but the letters might make for an interesting book.

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  2. Nance said on February 22, 2004 at 12:50 pm

    I was more impressed by Gray’s utter unwillingness to even hint at the obvious — that this family was the last group of people Johnson wanted to be attached to, and how ironic they’re now the caretakers of his legacy. In that case, he’s the prototypical Hoosier success story.

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  3. Dan McAfee said on February 22, 2004 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t know, didn’t the article say that he had written monthly letters to his family for decades and that they had visited now and then when he lived in Toronto? I’m sure it raises your reporter’s hackles that he was so different from the rest of his family, but sometimes maybe a great story is just a great story. Maybe his time in Korea, his time in service, gave him the wanderlust.

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