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Jun 1, 2023

Feast on this: His name is Chadwick Gillenwater. But children across Indiana know him as bow-tied Professor Watermelon, the performance name he uses when he travels to schools, libraries, museums, summer camps and historic sites for presentations about history and writing. At various historic sites, Chadwick, a veteran teacher and school librarian, also offers workshops for children called Watermelon University.

The historic sites include the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home in the Lockerbie neighborhood of Indianapolis. It's also the setting for one of Chadwick's books for children, George and the Goblin Hole, in which he uses a real historical figure (the butler at the home when Riley was in residence) along with a fictional character, a contemporary boy, to inspire interest in the Hoosier poet. In addition to his presentations as Professor Watermelon, Chadwick is a history reenactor who frequently portrays James Whitcomb Riley (in costume) at civic events and presentations to children.

So why not tap Chadwick a k a Professor Watermelon for tips about how to excite children in history, and insights about what turns them off? When he joins Nelson as a studio guest, Professor Watermelon also will suggest some do's and don'ts about sparking an interest in writing among young Hoosiers.