Center of the Universe

The Story of How Philo Became
The Center of the Universe

Margaret Miles Khachaturian, “Our Village History, Philo 1875-2000″

It was Thanksgiving of 1969 and the Narbey Khachaturian family was in India where Professor Khachaturian was serving as a consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development, for the advancement of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur.
Teenagers Greg and Jon were attending the American International School in New Delhi and had brought a friend, Bill Stollberg, home for the holiday. Mary and Steve were living at home on the IIT campus. We took Bill to Bitur, a place by the Ganges River that was of significance to the Indian people.
It was so significant, in fact, that there was a small shrine-like area that sheltered a plaque that read “Bitur – The Center of the Universe.”
“Oh, that is not true,” the boys told their friend. “PHILO is the center of the universe!”
It became a family joke and years later Bill came to Philo to visit because he said he had to see this center of the universe for himself.
When Steve Khachaturian was introducing himself to his WLRW audience, he said he was Stevie Jay from Philo, the Center of the Universe. The comment then became a beyond-family joke and when Steve began his talk show on radio station WDWS, he referred more frequently to Philo as the Center and more of the story was told.
It seems that at Bitur seventeen years earlier, Greg had quickly figured that if you drilled a hole through the globe you would come out in Philo. Jon further opined that indeed, it would come up right under the water tower.
When the Philo Village Board voted to have this geographical news painted ON the water tower, Steve was so surprised that he impulsively said, on the air, that he would broadcast a program from the top of the tower. When the day came, people brought lawn chairs and were sitting along the sidewalk on the east side of the bank as Steve climbed the ladder.
It was on June 7, 1987 and the area was in a state of severe drought. Steve had been up there for only half an hour when it began to rain, necessitating his descent, for which he was very glad. Since that was the only time it rained that whole month, people were suggesting he go up there again, an idea he enthusiastically vetoed.
In 1992, the Philo Women’s Club had shirts and caps made with the Center of the Universe declaration and the committee for the quasquicentennial in August of 2000 followed through by having a logo designed by Paul Buhnerkemper to be printed on dozens of celebration souvenirs.
There have been books published proclaiming this amazing fact, including one by CBS correspondent Bill Geist. He suggests that the residents claim that Philo is the Center of the Universe– but they’re just kidding.
Used with the permission of Margaret Miles Khachaturian (& with Thanks! from PPLD)