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Author Topic: Contest Winner Gets Royal Treatment in John's Hometown  (Read 14767 times)
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« on: August 23, 2010, 11:25:34 am » contest Winner Sherry Lee relates her experience of winning a professional tour of John's hometown.

By Thad Requet

When Sherry Lee found out she won the tour of John Mellencamp's hometown of Seymour, Indiana, she was very excited, even though she had been to the town three times before. Sherry is a true fan and she wears her Mellencamp pride every day...literally. She has 10 different tattoos of Mellencamp on her body. She has had the opportunity to meet John and he and his son Hud have seen the tattoos.

She and her 16-year-old nephew Andre, drove from Des Moines, Iowa, listening to Mellencamp music the entire way, through Illinois into Indiana before arriving at the Fairfield Inn in Seymour. "When we arrived we found out that our hotel expenses had been taken care of, thanks to Jana Plump, from the Seymour City Office," Lee explained. She and her nephew traveled on a Thursday. When they got up the next morning, Mayor Craig Luedeman picked Sherry and Andre up and started the tour of the "Original Small Town." "He gave me a copy of the audio tour cd, "The Roots of an American Rocker: An Audio Driving Tour of John Mellencamp's Hometown" which was really cool. It has people from the town telling stories about different experiences they have had. It's really nice," she said. The CD was released by the Jackson County Visitor Center in 2009.

Jane Plump and Sherry Lee

The first place they went was to Larrison's Diner, which appeared in the movie Falling From Grace. "We went through it because it was on the way. We came back later and ate lunch there," Lee said. They also went to the Schneck Medical Center which also appeared in the movie.

One of Sherry's favorite things to see was the parking meter and marble stone that were installed on Chestnut Street in Seymour as a tribute to John. She decided to get her picture taken beside it. She then toured the City Hall, that's where she met Jana Plump, a receptionist, who also served as Sherry's contact person for the trip. "I was able to see the mayor's office and view the Wall of Seymour's famous people." Mayor Luedeman also gave her a poster of the City of Seymour.

She said the tourism facility had a lot of John Mellencamp memorabilia. "We then went to the Dakota Ridge Country Club, which also appeared in "Falling From Grace. We got to visit with a couple of people who were there when the movie was being filmed," Sherry explained.

"We also drove past the cemetery and saw the big Mellencamp headstone," she said. The headstone appears in the "Small Town" video. Next they went by John's parents' house, which also appeared in the movie. "We drove by John's boyhood home, which was just a small square house. It really wasn't very big at all," she said.

They then went to the Rok-Sey Roller Rink, which has also appeared in the movie and previous music videos. Sherry said she was told that a couple weeks earlier they wouldn't have been able to go to the roller rink due to high water from a nearby river. They also saw all three schools that John attended while growing up in Seymour.

"Another really cool thing was that I was interviewed by the local radio station. I explained how I won, what I got for winning, and then got to request a John Mellencamp song," she said. Sherry requested her favorite Mellencamp song..."Hotdogs and Hamburgers." "I also had to request "I Need A Lover" for my husband.

Another thing Sherry really enjoyed seeing was the Minutes to Memories Garden. "I hadn't seen that before and it was really nice," she said. She then visited with Don Hill and toured the Art Center. "We didn't get to go up in the loft, but that was okay. We did see the famous cage that appeared in the movie. I tried to get Andre to get in it, but it was hot and he would have gotten all dirty, so he decided not to," she explained.

Sherry and Andre also got to see John's famous grandmother Laura Mellencamp's old house. Laura is the one who sang the verse of "The Baggage Coach" known as "Grandma's Theme" on the Scarecrow album. "The house was being lived in by one of the nieces, which I thought was cool that it was still in the family," Sherry said.

Another highlight of the tour was the stop at a guitar store called This Old Guitar owned by Larry McDonald. McDonald used to be a band member of John's back in the very early days. "He told some very interesting stories and was such a nice man. He also got a kick out of my tattoos," Sherry said. McDonald ended up giving Sherry an autogrphed shirt by John. "He was a very nice guy and made me really feel comfortable while I was there," she said.

Even though it was her fourth trip to Seymour, Sherry said it was well worth it. "I already want to go back!" She said there are a couple of different Mellencamp related things the mayor wants to do. "The first thing is, off the interstate there are three big silos. He wants to put John's picture on the middle one with a couple other local celebrities on each of the others. The second thing he talked about was naming the stretch of road that goes by John's high school Mellencamp Way, or something to that effect," she explained. She also noted that when she and Andre got back to the hotel Friday afternoon, they were notified that Mayor Luedeman had paid for their room for an extra night.

Sherry said she is very thankful to Tony and Sharon and the John Mellencamp Fan Club for making this trip possible.

Quick Facts about Sherry Lee
How she became a fan: "I remember when "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane" came out and loved those songs. Then I attended the show in Moline, Ill. during the Mr. Happy Go Lucky Tour. That made me a Mellenhead." Needless to say, she has all of John's albums.

Favorite Albums: Lonesome Jubilee, Cuttin' Heads, Life Death Love and Freedom, and Freedom's Road.

Favorite Songs: "Hotdogs And Hamburgers", "Mansions In Heaven", and "Small Town".

Sherry Lee, Mayor Craig Luedeman and Larry McDonald
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 12:12:49 pm by sharonc » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2010, 11:47:59 am »

Nice write-up! I saw your photos on your FB page, great to read the story behind them!

I still haven't been to Larry's Old Guitar shop, that certainly is on my JM bucket list.


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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2010, 10:17:59 am »

A couple corrections that I thought I better correct---the three silos that the mayor was talking about is not off the interstate, but off the main drag that runs thru town, HWY 50, the silos are just south of the railroad tracks if my memory serves me correct.  And on the complimentry room, the initial verbage was one nights stay, but when we checked in, I was informed that both nights were covered by the mayor.  Smiley   I love Seymour!!! 
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