Weldon Crisman has never taken a moment for granted, and at 95 years old, he’s still looking for the next adventure on the horizon.
Crisman was born in the Miller area in 1928 and moved out to the country off of Lincoln Highway when he was young. He lived without a refrigerator and indoor plumbing, but it didn’t matter to him. That was the way everyone lived at the time.
“Everybody helped one another, and we sat around and laughed a lot. It was a lot of hard work, but everybody seemed to enjoy it. You never heard anybody complain about anything,” Crisman said.
He eventually moved closer to Gary to make it easier for his father to get to work, and Crisman attended Horace Mann High School until he dropped out at age 17 to join the Marine Corps during World War II.
During his time in the service, Crisman attended boot camp at Parris Island and trained in Camp Lejeune before being transported to the west coast while awaiting news of America’s next step in the war. Unbeknownst to the servicemen at the time, the country was deciding between invading Japan and dropping an atomic bomb.
After the war came to an end, Crisman was transported back to the east coast and ended up in Quantico, Virginia. He then moved to a position at a base in Indian Head, Maryland. Indian Head became a place for the military to send servicemen when they weren’t needed elsewhere, and when Indian Head became too full, Crisman was discharged to the Great Lakes territory.
Although his time in the military was enough adventure to last a lifetime for many, it was just the beginning for Crisman.
“I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet,” Crisman said.
After being discharged, Crisman traveled the country and continued to search for adventure at every opportunity.
“I had restless feet. I had to start moving. I wanted to see this country, and that’s exactly what I did. It’s a great country. I did just about everything. I did fur trapping in Nebraska, I built a 21-foot Cabin Cruiser, and just about everything in between,” Crisman said.
In addition to traveling anywhere and everywhere, Crisman has an impressive resume of skills.
As kids, he and his sister took dance lessons and eventually went up to Chicago for lessons after their teacher back home said that they had learned everything she could teach them. Later in life, Crisman hosted square dance nights at a local venue that offered the space for free on the condition that he would restore the dance hall.
Although he can’t dance quite as well as he used to, he keeps those fond memories close to his heart.
“I can’t do the hiking or moving around like I used to, but I have all the memories. I can let them take the place of the action,” Crisman said.
He may not move like he used to, but that doesn’t mean Crisman hasn’t been busy. On May 1, 2023, he published his first book – something that has been on his mind for years.
“Charlie, the Little Dog with Courage and Spunk” is a storybook written about the true story of Charlie, a dog that lived in Crisman’s neighborhood. The story was illustrated by Valparaiso resident Nathan Biancardi.
Crisman’s family has been a large part of his life, including the publication of his book. A connection through his daughter-in-law helped make the dream a reality, and Crisman can recall many moments where he has leaned on his family for support whether for good things or bad.
“I’ve got a great family. You couldn’t hand-pick them any better, and I feel the same way about my neighbors. They are all terrific people, and they make life a lot better,” Crisman said.
Crisman truly has done it all, but through every season, he has never failed to take time to step back, take a breath, and enjoy the present.
“I’ve had a great life. I can’t complain. I’ve had a lot of bumps along the way, but I’ve overcome them. There was never a wasted moment. I didn’t sit there and have a pity party. There wasn’t time for that. I just wanted to get around and move all the time. I think that’s good medicine – getting out with nature and hiking and breathing in the air. It’s all great,” Crisman said.
Not a moment has been wasted for Crisman, and he doesn’t plan on changing that any time soon.
“Enjoy life. Take each day as it comes. Don't be worried about too much and get up early and enjoy the sun coming up. Let things take care of themselves, because they usually do,” Crisman said.
Check out “Charlie, the Little Dog with Courage and Spunk” at any bookstore or at the link here.