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Telling secrets: Author's new book delves into 'Secret Northwest Indiana'

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Author/Times reporter Joseph Pete is uncovering interesting historical facts and cultural information in his latest book.

"Secret Northwest Indiana: A Guide To The Weird, Wonderful and Obscure," published by Reedy Press, features a variety of fascinating places, objects and more located in the Region which readers will want to explore and learn more about.

Pete, a staff writer for The Times, has also written previous books titled "100 Things to Do in Gary and Northwest Indiana Before You Die" and "Lost Hammond, Indiana." Both books were also published by Reedy Press.

The new book is part of Reedy Press' series of "Secret" publications.

"It took me about a year to write and research this book," said Pete. He said personnel at Reedy Press approached him with the idea to write this new book as a type of follow-up to his previous publications.

"I was definitely intrigued by the idea," Pete said, adding he's always been interested in subjects, places and things that are off the beaten track, obscure or "oddball."

Pete called the book a "very hands on"  publication. "It's a combination history book and travelogue," he said.

"There's a lot of focus on the Region's hidden history. There were many facts I didn't know before," the author said.

Having grown up in Highland, Pete said he was very familiar with many attractions, places and history of Northwest Indiana but this book allowed him to delve even deeper allowing him to uncover more fascinating info about the area.

Within the book, readers will find everything from where John Dillinger escaped from jail, ecology's birthplace and tree graveyards to Mount Baldy, Frank Lloyd Wright Homes and The Sparkle House.

"I learned so much more about the Region while writing this book," Pete said.

Pete, a business writer for The Times, has also written many other stories about cultural institutions, food, the arts and other topics for the newspaper.

Among the places he learned more about while penning "Secret Northwest Indiana" was the Community Veterans Memorial in Munster. He said he learned the sculptors Julie and Omri Rotblatt-Amrany, who designed granite sculptures at the site, also sculpted the Michael Jordan statue at The United Center and the Harry Caray statue at Wrigley Field.

"Secret Northwest Indiana," Pete said, definitely combines places he was extremely familiar with as well as those he's only heard of in passing. He revisited or visited for the first time each place featured in the book.

Among some of the other fascinating inclusions in the book are Roy Boy's Badlands, a tattoo parlor in Gary that was known for its tigers on the premises. Celebrities such as Steven Tyler and Lenny Kravitz were inked there. While the tigers are gone, Roy Boy's Badlands is still a tattoo parlor.

Readers can also learn about Meyer's Castle, The Frost House in Michigan City, The Hoosier Slide, The Jingle Johns, Gary Demon House and Thomas Edison's Old Office in "Secret Northwest Indiana."

Pete said he's always been a lover of history and a fan of reading.

"I've been a big reader since childhood. "I've been known to bring a book into a movie theater in case I had five seconds to kill," he said, with a laugh. Pete chuckled that he even brought a book to his wedding.

According to Pete, Northwest Indiana is "a gem that is often unappreciated...It doesn't reveal itself until you really examine it."

Pete is currently working on a "Lost East Chicago" book. "Secret Northwest Indiana" is available at major bookstores, through Amazon and other online booksellers.

The following is a schedule of some book signings for "Secret Northwest Indiana."

• Saturday, May 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Miles Books, 2819 Jewett Ave., Highland. 219-838-8700. Free and open to the public.

• Friday, June 3 6 to 8 p.m. at Indie Indie Bang Bang, 625 S Lake St., Gary.

• Saturday, June 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Green Door, 325 Main St, Hobart. 219-945-3656. Free and open to the public.

• Saturday, June 11 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Book Warehouse, 1101 Lighthouse Place, located in Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, Michigan City. 219-262-5040. Free and open to the public.

• Saturday, June 18 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Paul Henry's Art Gallery, 416 Sibley St., Hammond. Free and open to the public.

• Sunday, June 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Miller Beach Farmers Market, 667 S Lake St. #2938, Gary. Free and open to the public.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.

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