Learning while driving

November 8, 2010
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I’ve driven down State Road 37 hundreds of times over the years. It’s the road that leads me to Bloomington, where I went to college and now visit during Indiana University football and basketball seasons.

I’ve seen the sign on the side of the road that says “Ruel W. Steele Highway” countless times, but I don’t think I’ve ever read it. It wasn’t until last weekend when driving to a football game did I actually read the sign and see that it didn’t say T.C. Steele.

I never processed the name on the sign until now; I saw “Steele” and assumed it said T.C. Steele, the Indiana artist who worked in southern Indiana. That assumption is plausible, given his connection to the region.

But when I finally read what the sign said, I asked my husband if he knew who Ruel W. Steele was. Thanks to a smart phone, we learned he was a lawyer and judge from Bedford who was on the head of the highway commission that created S.R. 37. That’s why the highway from Bedford to Indianapolis is named after him.

After doing some more research online later, I found that Ruel W. Steele received his LLB from Indiana University in 1948, the same year he founded Steele & Steele. He was honored by IU in 1973 with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, which is the highest accolade for alumni. Steele died in December 1992. That’s all I could find out about him online.

I’ve driven that road for years never paying attention to who it honored. Now that I work for a legal newspaper, I find out it’s named for an attorney. Maybe I’m easily amused, but I get a kick out of that.

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  • Longer Legacy
    He is also the attorney who is the father of State Senator, Supreme Court applicant, and attorney, Brent Steele. My guess is that if you wanted to know more, Brent would be more than glad to oblige you on one of his visits to town for legislative business. There are some great stories and some great history there.
  • Correction:
    Ruel Steele did not create Highway 37 which was the main road from Indianapolis to Bloomington and on to Bedford for many years prior to Steele's service as a State Senator and Highway Commissioner. What Ruel Steele did accomplish was getting that heavily traveled highway "four laned."
  • Another highway story
    Highway 38 leading westbound into Noblesville is named the Bataan Memorial Highway (one of these signs is posted right on the curb of the American Legion near 10th St. in Noblesville). Being a miltary historian as well as an attorney, I asked a clerk in the Hamilton County Courthouse if some survivor or survivors of the Bataan Peninsula campaign and subsequent Death March lived in the area. She replied "What is Bataan?" I have made subsequent inquiries with lawyers and judges in Noblesville with no success. My guess would be that a legislator or highway executive decided to honor the veterans and nurses of Bataan.

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  1. "Am I bugging you? I don't mean to bug ya." If what I wrote below is too much social philosophy for Indiana attorneys, just take ten this vacay to watch The Lego Movie with kiddies and sing along where appropriate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etzMjoH0rJw

  2. I've got some free speech to share here about who is at work via the cat's paw of the ACLU stamping out Christian observances.... 2 Thessalonians chap 2: "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last."

  3. Did someone not tell people who have access to the Chevy Volts that it has a gas engine and will run just like a normal car? The batteries give the Volt approximately a 40 mile range, but after that the gas engine will propel the vehicle either directly through the transmission like any other car, or gas engine recharges the batteries depending on the conditions.

  4. Catholic, Lutheran, even the Baptists nuzzling the wolf! http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-documents-reveal-obama-hhs-paid-baptist-children-family-services-182129786-four-months-housing-illegal-alien-children/ YET where is the Progressivist outcry? Silent. I wonder why?

  5. Thank you, Honorable Ladies, and thank you, TIL, for this interesting interview. The most interesting question was the last one, which drew the least response. Could it be that NFP stamps are a threat to the very foundation of our common law American legal tradition, a throwback to the continental system that facilitated differing standards of justice? A throwback to Star Chamber’s protection of the landed gentry? If TIL ever again interviews this same panel, I would recommend inviting one known for voicing socio-legal dissent for the masses, maybe Welch, maybe Ogden, maybe our own John Smith? As demographics shift and our social cohesion precipitously drops, a consistent judicial core will become more and more important so that Justice and Equal Protection and Due Process are yet guiding stars. If those stars fall from our collective social horizon (and can they be seen even now through the haze of NFP opinions?) then what glue other than more NFP decisions and TRO’s and executive orders -- all backed by more and more lethally armed praetorians – will prop up our government institutions? And if and when we do arrive at such an end … will any then dare call that tyranny? Or will the cost of such dissent be too high to justify?

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