"A Home Place"
Herb Miller Interview


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Herb Miller

"A Home Place"
Herb Miller Interview

by Bill Weaver
photo by George Bredewater

1925. One year old Herb Miller is the new kid in town. Nashville is a quiet place, State Road 135 a dirt road running up the north side hill. His father, Herbert, Sr. had recently bought the old Taggart general store building from Ola Vawter, who ran a pharmacy there, moving his family from Cross Plains, Indiana, to the beautiful hills of Brown County. Nashville already had the reputation as an artists colony but the most important thing to him was that there was a high school nearby for his children.

Since those days Nashville has become a very different place.

"I was a year old. It was a quiet country town when I first came here." Tourists only visited during the Fall Season, and during holidays. Herb's father established Miller's Drug Store, a place where town's people and the art colony crowd could meet over a checkerboard on somewhat equal footing. "It has been quite a change. I wouldn't say better. Just different."

And far, far busier. Yet, Nashville is the only place in the world Miller would want to live. He knows a careful balance must be maintained to keep the town livable and sociable while meeting the needs of the many people who use it every day and those who visit from afar.

Herb has lived his entire life in Nashville except for two years with the Air Force where he flew 29 missions in a B-17 over Italy. Like many World War II veterans, Miller is modest about his service to our country. A soft spoken, friendly man, he returned from the war to help his father at the drug store.

"I worked in there quite a bit. I did have an apprenticeship. But I hadn't completed it when Dad was killed in an accident."

Miller's brother Maurice (Pods) continued to operate Miller's Drug Store for another 25 years. Today the Hob Nob Restaurant occupies the building on the corner of Main and Van Buren streets.

Herb, though, began pursuing other interests. He spent several years with the Indianapolis office of the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

"It was interesting. The Pinkertons, the time I was with them, did insurance investigations documenting malingerers and disability fraud. At that time Pinkerton investigated all jewel thefts for the Jewelry Security Alliance."

I have a vision of lurid Hollywood style gunfights until Herb adds, "There wasn't anything dangerous about it but I did a lot of traveling, working on cases all over the country."

Miller, who has always been interested in wildlife and conservation, also worked at the Brown County State Park where he was appointed Park Superintendent. "We were quite busy at that time. The park was considerably more primitive back then." At the time the park included a number of live "animal exhibits" where many of the animals that had originally inhabited the park, including buffalo, elk, deer, a mountain lion, coyotes and snakes were kept.

"After I quit up there we ran a pool room, where the Lil Rascals toy shop is now." Other stores followed, selling sporting goods and swimwear. He also operated a cut stone mill, near where the Little Nashville Opry House is today.

"I did a little of everything."

These days Herb is a volunteer special reserve deputy with the Brown County Sheriff's Office, often helping direct traffic during busy times at the park entrance and after Little Opry events. He still loves to fish and to shoot targets, getting special satisfaction by making his own ammunition for his guns. He also makes wine from grapevines he has grown—although he admits it's been a few years since the last batch.

"Everything has changed—from the time the old Nashville House burned— everything has just expanded," he says about the explosive growth that has affected not just Nashville, but the whole country.

The important thing is that so much remains: the friends, the family, the unique qualities that are Brown County.

"Nashville has always been a home place for me."

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