“Back home again in Indiana,
And it seems that I can see…”
Today at 12:03pm, I will stop what I am doing and listen to one of my most favorite Memorial Day weekend traditions. Although the singing of “Back Home Again In Indiana” has been a part of the Indianapolis 500 Mile pre-Race since 1946, immediately following “The National Anthem” and the playing of “Taps,” Jim Nabors, television’s own Gomer Pyle, has been treating Hoosiers and race fans to this tradition since 1972.
“The gleaming candlelight, still shining bright,
Through the sycamores for me.”
I can remember, as a child, coming home from church, jumping into play clothes, and getting ready for the family cookout at my grandparents’ home just North of Lapel, Indiana. Grandpa’s work bench radio was always on so we could listen to the pre-race events.
“The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
From the fields I used to roam.”
Now, for anyone who ever saw ANDY GRIFFITH or GOMER PYLE, USMC, it was always hard to imagine the kind-hearted, but ever goofy character, Gomer Pyle, opening his mouth to release golden tones. However, Jim Nabor’s rich, warm baritone voice was pleasing, and even mind-boggling. Until the Alabama Native became entrenched with this now 97 year old tradition knwon as The Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, he was preceded by Dinah Shore, Mel Torme and countless other leading performers of the era.
“When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,
Then I long for my Indiana home.”
Each year, hearing Jim Nabors sing this beloved melody that is more well known than the state song, “On The Banks Of The Wabash,” becomes more precious. Mr. Nabors, who will turn 83 in a few weeks, is advancing in years. Who knows when it will be his final time to offer this treasured moment, so dear to countless Hoosiers, and non-Hoosiers who love this tradition.
I’ve lived in Ohio since 1990, but I will always be a Hoosier in my heart. And with the passing years, less frequent visits ‘home,’ and beloved moments like today at 12:03pm, I am always a tearfully bit more connected to my Hoosier roots.