Scholars travel to learn about Pyle, his legacy
Coffee laced with sugary sweetness and half-eaten bagels jostled around the bus. Sleep-stained eyes glanced around, and stumbling chatter filled the air. With a full tank, the bus full of IU scholars was ready to depart.
Dana, Indiana, was the destination. Dana is a charming town, with a restaurant, a museum, a cemetery and a stop sign. The Ernie Pyle and Media scholars were trekking to the historic home and museum dedicated to WWII war correspondent Ernie Pyle.
Pyle was known for his columns detailing life in wartime. He went with the soldiers and reported on the deaths that many war correspondents would not. His war coverage from multiple continents garnered him accolades and the adoration of many people.
The goal of the trip is to educate scholars about the life of the namesake of IU’s honors journalism program.
Pyle’s house gives insight into his beginnings
By Ally Melnik
War correspondent Ernie Pyle was born in a small, white colonial house. Lace curtains cover the windows. The first word that comes to mind is “quaint.” Inside, bright wallpaper decorates the walls, and the air smells of old books. A mixture of soft, artificial light and sunlight give the room a sense of cheeriness.
It was here that Pyle’s parents, Will and Maria, sought shelter (and running water) to give birth to their son Aug. 3, 1900. The house belonged to their employer, Sam Miller, and it is located on a farm just outside of Dana. It was originally built in 1850 and today looks like it hasn’t aged.
Although he was born in this preserved house, he never lived in it. The Pyles’ home, also located on Miller’s farm, was torn down when a new family purchased the farm in the 1970s. Instead of also tearing down Miller’s house, they donated it to the town of Dana, to be relocated and turned into a museum.
Donated furniture gives the house an old-fashioned atmosphere. Original artifacts owned by the Pyles, including Maria’s egg basket and Ernie’s collection of postcards, are on display. It has an almost pristine cook stove, a 100-year-old rug and a quilt from 1920 featuring people who paid a quarter to have their name stitched in. The house also displays photographs of Pyle throughout his life, ranging from him as a child on a rocking horse to a portrait of himself taken toward the end of his life, featuring him standing proudly on the mantelpiece under a picture of his parents.
Although he didn’t grow up in the house, the building and its artifacts give people a deeper understanding of what the beginning of Pyle’s life looked like, before he attended IU and reported from World War II. His articles about soldiers’ lives clearly reflect the simple beginnings found in the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum.
Pyle museum details his life, work
By Madi Smalstig
Ernie Pyle’s writing connected the world to the front lines of World War II. The Ernie Pyle World War II Museum connected us to his story and those stories he chronicled.
The tour of the museum began with video highlights of Pyle’s life from birth to death. Although half the students in attendance were Ernie Pyle Scholars, many of them were unfamiliar with the person their program was named after. After the video, they were looking to learn more about the famous correspondent.
Following the video, we continued into a museum full of Pyle’s work. In addition to his original articles, it featured life-size dioramas of scenes he witnessed and chronicled, as well as some of his personal belongings. Beyond the normal exhibits, the back room also contained multiple articles praising his work.
Media Scholars and Ernie Pyle Scholars alike came out of the museum with a better idea of what a great journalist looks like. We hope to someday be able to follow in his footsteps and produce informative, memorable material.