Cue the song “Gary, Indiana” as The Spirit rolls into town

July 17, 2019

Chuck Robinson


The very name of the city, Gary, Indiana, triggers an earworm.

There, you have it too, the song refrain “Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana” playing on a loop in your brain. It is from Meredith Willson’s 1957 Broadway musical “The Music Man.” The lead character, con man Professor Harold Hill, spins a yarn about being an alumnus of the “Gary Conservatory of Music, Class of ’05.”

Well, Jon Osburn, skipper of OOIDA’s traveling trailer, is no con man and no Professor Harold Hill. He plans to be in Gary, however, on July 18-20 at the Gary Petro. That is at Exit 9 from I-90/I-84.


The Gary Petro has 405 truck parking spots. There are Iron Skillet, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants there. In addition, there is Wi-Fi, a game room, NFL on DirectTV, a pet area, a bean bag toss and a fitness room.

The song “Gary, Indiana” is catchy, but if you don’t recall the words between the chorus refrains, here is Robert Preston himself regaling the city in an original cast recording.

Notice that Professor Hill said he graduated from the Gary Conservatory of Music in 1905. Part of the joke was that the city of Gary was not founded until 1906. The song does correctly allude to the city’s namesake, lawyer Elbert Henry Gary, founding chairman of the United States Steel Corp.

If anyone can get a video of Osburn singing “Gary, Indiana” and send it to us at Land Line, surely we can come up with a reward.

On another musical note, Gary, Indiana, is noteworthy for being the hometown of the Jackson Five.

The older Jackson children won a talent show in 1965 at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary, and then more talent shows.

Though people on Trip Advisor say there isn’t much to see, you can visit the Jackson home. It is a small white clapboard house. There is a tribute plaque there. The address is 2300 Jackson St., Gary, IN 46407-3050.

Of course, it is music to Jon’s ears when professional commercial vehicle drivers stop by to chat about the trucking industry and what’s going on in Washington, D.C.

One of the top issues is a nonmilitary pilot program to allow under-21 drivers to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. OOIDA is against the continued efforts to allow younger truck drivers to cross state lines, saying it would lead to a decrease in safety and allow large motor carriers to pay lower wages.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has given drivers an extended opportunity to weigh in on the issue. Comments can be submitted at by including Docket ID FMCSA-2018-0346.

In case it makes it easier for drivers to comment, there is a laptop at the Spirit of the American Trucker trailer where you can comment for the federal record. Let federal authorities know what you think.

The next stop after Gary for The Spirit is at the 37th annual Shell SuperRigs on July 25-28 at Trails Travel Center in Albert Lea, Minn.

Whenever you see The Spirit tour truck, go say hello to Jon. He enjoys visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. You also can join or renew your OOIDA membership for $10 off the regular price there. Also, you can get vouchers for flu, shingles and pneumonia vaccines from Jon at The Spirit.

Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.