There's no mistaking a Cole Porter song. In the 1930's his sharp lyrics and jaunty music helped America forget the Great Depression, the dream of a better life..of penthouses and champagne, tails and high top hats. The world the very wealthy songwriter himself occupied from the day he was born. Maybe that's why so many folks are surprised to find the toast of Broadway came from Peru, Indiana, born in this house in 1891.
“And he was kind of a quiet person, he wasn't pushy” says a fan. “Everybody says in his younger days he was pretty loud but anyhow he was a very quiet, refined person.”
Porter grew up in Peru, the only child of the town's wealthiest family. He stayed here before heading for college back East. It was in the East the songwriter came into his own, writing a string of hit Broadway shows from the 1920's to the 1950's. He returned to the Midwest only occasionally but his hometown has not forgotten its most famous son. The Miami County Museum in Peru has an impressive display of Porter photos and memorabilia including his Grammy award and his 1955 Cadillac. Even here among museum staff Porter's music enjoys a strong following.
“I just like the beat,” says a fan, “and the words are so catchy, and the rhythm.”
His songs are full of eastern sophistication but it was his Midwest upbringing Porter credited for his optimism, a characteristic that infuses every song he wrote. When he died in 1964 it was not in New York he wished to be laid to rest, but back home in Indiana. He's buried in Peru's Mt. Hope cemetery close to his family and childhood friends...the inspiration for the music the world danced to yesterday, and will still be humming tomorrow. Eric Olson for 21 Country.