NAME: Glory-June Greiff
TITLE: Public Historian FOR: Historian-at-Large
SINCE? I’ve been working on history and preservation projects for 30 years.
ORIGINALLY FROM? Michiana!
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? Research, fieldwork, writing, photography, presentations, programs, first-person performances, rambling old roads, scrambling into derelict buildings . . .
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY? Whatever it takes
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD TO HAVE BEEN PART OF? The attempt to save Lockefield Gardens
OTHER PROJECTS WE MIGHT RECOGNIZE? Save Outdoor Sculpture survey, documenting outdoor sculptures throughout Indiana. Years later, I wrote a book, Remembrance, Faith, and Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana. I’ve also done major research on the New Deal in Indiana, and written People, Parks, and Perceptions: A History and Appreciation of Indiana State Parks.
WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? It is simply what I do! But I love to be able to get people to SEE things around them and appreciate what has gone before.
WORST PART OF WHAT YOU DO? Bureaucracy, red tape, meetings, politics.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS? Hmm. It’s good to be appreciated and trusted in my work¬¬–I suppose in everything. I do NOT see making a lot of money as being successful (and it’s a good thing I don’t!)
ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? Don’t even consider it unless you love it.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR JOB/CAREER/ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Oh, let’s see. I wish National Register nominations were not such a difficult process. I’ve done so many, but I hate all the hoop-jumping part of it.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE YOU ARE WITHOUT? So many people have helped me along the way. They live in me as I use what I learned through them. My mom, June Greiff, was a crazy lady and very special. She always supported whatever I attempted and thrilled to my accomplishments.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? Inner passion
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTORS AND HOW DID THEY HELP? My mom, as I mentioned, and my stalwart dad, who instilled in me a love of the earth. Phil Scarpino helped me be a better historian. Ralph Gray helped me be a better Indiana historian.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY? It must always have been there. My family always visited historic sites, and I was always drawn to old architecture without knowing anything much about it. I lived in Chicago after college and took every tour (they were free then!) the Chicago Architectural Foundation offered and soaked it up like a sponge.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? Oh come on; it’s all cool! Really, I find new and interesting stuff nearly every day¬–the bits and pieces that make up the context of history.
YOU CAN HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? WHO & WHY? Oh gee, another toughie. Rudolf Schwarz, the starving artist who left Indiana with so many marvelous monuments? Alexander Sangernebo, another sculptor who left his mark on SO many buildings? Myra Reynolds Richards, a woman sculptor of a hundred years ago who was able to win fairly large commissions? Richard Lieber, the German Romantic who started our state parks? Mayor Caven, whose name graces the street I live on, and who gave bread to striking railroad workers? And that’s just for starters!
YOUR CAREER IN AN ALTERNATE LIFE? Hmm. Paleontologist? Archaeologist? Duncan dancer?
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? Nope! My people are from the north.
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? There’s a wonderful view from the highest point in Round Hill Cemetery that rivals the one from Riley’s tomb.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? Oh, too many to mention! Little cafes, such as Thyme to Eat and Sisters. Independent coffee shops, such as Calvin Fletchers. Ethnic places like The Bosphorus. I like places with decades of history as well as good food, like Napoli Villa in Beech Grove.
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? That’s hard, too. I love Cincinnati but haven’t spent much time there in years. In Indiana I like Fort Wayne, and, of course, my home area’s city of South Bend, and I’ve recently rediscovered Whiting. I usually fall in love with any number of small towns I go through (and often work with): Madison, of course, and Vevay, Brookville. I enjoy going down to Bloomington, and mustn’t forget New Carlisle.
FAVORITE HISTORY RELATED BOOK OR MOVIE? Again, too many. But I’ve reread The Magnificent Ambersons more than once. I like the film, too.
ULTIMATE BEVERAGE? Lattes are great. But really, I’ll travel a long way for a good chocolate ice cream soda.
COLLECT ANYTHING? Old stuff! I seldom consider myself a true collector of anything, but I probably have a couple hundred Indiana-related books, for example, and some hundreds of old postcards. Old maps, love ‘em. And then there’s the old kitchen tools and kitchenware. And the rocks I just pick up everywhere. And so it goes.
FAVORITE QUOTE? I used this as the theme of my valedictory address in high school: “This above all, to thine ownself be true, for it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” From Hamlet, of course. My other favorite also harkens back to Shakespeare: “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything. “
“The sun shines not on us, but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. . . .” John Muir
IF YOUR LIFE HAD A THEME SONG, IT’D BE? There’s a song by a folk rock group of the 70s called Heartsfield. The had a song called “The Wonder of It All.” The main line runs through my mind often: “I will never cease to be bewildered by the wonder of it all.”