A fat, pessimistic, and sarcastic cat who loves lasagna, Garfield the comic strip was first published on this date back in 1978. In celebration of its 34th birthday, I’ll relive the time I visited the Fairmount Historical Museum. You probably didn’t know the cartoon is set in Muncie, Indiana. The creator, Jim Davis, grew up in nearby Fairmount (also the home of James Dean) on a farm with 25 cats and still lives in the state. Anyway, the local museum is dedicated to these two famous native sons. Yes, James Dean and Garfield are totally BFFs! Bet you didn’t know that. Of course James Dean gets more attention, that’s for sure, but the museum has a room all about Davis and his orange feline. For nearly thirty years, the museum has been located in the old Patterson house. For an urbanite like me, the small town freaked the shit out of me with everyone sitting and staring from their porches, like they knew all my secrets or something. But I took a deep breath and did the typical Japanese tourist thing posing with a James Dean cutout and Garfield statue before entering the house. A bunch of elderly ladies were inside waiting for me. Even though they’ve probably talked about “Jimmie” millions of times, they were excited to share their personal stories of him (and the other Jim…Davis that is) and showed me around the place, or should I say shrine. Everything Jimmie ever owned, including motorcycles and clothes, are on display. The Garfield section had some drawings and collectibles, including huge pictures of the characters as well as Jim’s high school yearbook, but it was more label-oriented than, say, a real collection. The old lady let me spend some time alone with the Jimmie Dean stuff. Before I left, I bought some postcards and thought to myself, “Wow, these people are the same age as James Dean.” I guess it’s good to die young, people. Considering Indiana is right next door to where I live, I’d like to explore more of the state one day, maybe I’ll go back to Fairmount during the annual Museum Days. It is held on the fourth weekend of September, when they have a parade as well as a James Dean lookalike contest and old car show. It would be nice to see the town when it looks more alive than dead.
(All Pictures By Me Except The Garfield Collection)