The late Emerson Houck was not born a Hoosier. He grew up near Chicago, but became a Hoosier by adoption when he married his wife Jane. They lived in Indianapolis, but Em soon got caught up in the frenzy of Indiana High School basketball—past and present. He was touched and impressed by the fervor and loyalty of citizens in small towns like Loogootee and Selma, Ossian and Daleville, for their local basketball teams, their great moments, their local boys and girls who became stars, if only for a couple of seasons. The stars and the games would live on in the memories of those towns for many years.
He and Jane traveled small-town Indiana, stopping at cafes to talk to the locals and inspecting old gyms. The spirit of unity and healthy competition and exaltation of good performance touched him and seemed to him the best of America. He began to preserve the stories, and those tales of local triumph became a book. Hawthorne put out Hoosiers All: Indiana High School Basketball with pride.
What was the theme that tied all these teams together? The mascot names identified the entire town, Em believed. In his first book, Go Huskies, Beat Felix the Cat, he had chronicled team names around the nation and showed how those mascot names reflected the area or state’s history or enthusiasms. Now we wished to center on the little town teams of his adopted state, incorporating the concept of the mascots to the team records.
He said in the first edition of Hoosiers All, which came out in 2009,
“Those names both in the past and in the present become a rallying point for a school, a community, or an entire area, and I have chosen to center this history of Indiana basketball around them. . .
Over the years my wife and I have traveled through the state, into every county, enjoying the Hoosier countryside and seeking team stories. We have been met with smiles and warmth everywhere and particularly in the smaller towns. . . Often we were regaled with tales of that one Sectional championship. I have included the stories of those “miracle seasons” whenever possible, but every one of them is significant in its own way and should be preserved.”
There have been many books about Indiana High School basketball, and we as publishers have put some of them out. But no other book has caught the spirit, the very heart of our towns and decent, hard-working people, whose only entertainment in past years beyond the radio was to go to the local gym and cheer their hearts out for the teams and their “royalty, birds, animals and native Americans” which mark the chapter heads of Hoosiers All. A new and expanded and corrected edition is now available. This book is unique and can never be imitated: it is a real contribution to the history of Indiana small-town life, captured when it was fresh.
Emerson, Indiana misses you, but your legacy of commemoration of the best of us. A life now gone in Indiana lives on in this book and we are proud to give you our Hawthorne Publishing Leading Lights award, posthumously.
Nancy Baxter, Senior Editor