Hoagy Carmichael Growing Up in Bloomington
In his unpublished memoir Jazzbanders, Hoagy said of his hometown, “Bloomington offered everything. Creeks, ponds, rabbits, circuses and wide open spaces. I could cross a dusty street here in my bare feet without the aid of a traffic cop.” The Carmichaels lived close to the IU campus. As a boy Hoagy played baseball in the summer and football in autumn on Dunn Meadow.
According to his account (as reported in Sudhalter’s Stardust Melody), Hoagy's breakthrough as a pianist came one rainy summer day. He was home in the family parlor after his baseball game on Dunn Meadow had been cancelled. The sound of the bells in the IU clock tower playing “Hail to Old I.U.” struck his ears. Suddenly he began to pick out the tune on his mother’s piano. Although he had heard his mother play all of his young life, this was the first time it occurred to him to try playing it himself. His mother had not wanted to impose her interest on the boy. However, when she discovered his own passion and aptitude for the instrument she was thrilled and began teaching him the keyboard. From this point on, Hoagy’s love of music grew apace. The rained-out baseball game on Dunn Meadow proved to be a blessing in disguise!