Friday, November 9, 2007

Holliday Hydroelectric Powerhouse and Dam, Noblesville, Indiana, circa 1930s

Revision: I want to thank C. Le Sesne for responding to this article with the correct and detailed identification of my grandfather's photograph. This is one reason I love vintage photos: there's often a story behind them. This is the Holliday Hydroelectric Powerhouse and Dam, Riverwood Avenue and 211th Street, in Noblesville, Indiana. It is on the West Branch of White River and according to this article it was built 1922-1927 and was placed on the National Historic Register in 1995. It was found to be technically innovative and further that its French Chateau style is architecturally significant. This Hamilton County landmark is the only known existing example in central Indiana. This informant also stated that Noblesville businessmen have an interest in restoring the building and that it is in good condition today. Note: I hope to visit this site and photograph it on my next visit to Indiana.

Here is an interesting photograph from the 1930's. It seems like an odd subject to photograph, but there it is: perfectly framed and composed. I colorized it, trying to give it a subtle, tinted look and trying to enhance the photo with the addition of color.
Note the road or pathway running parallel to the river and how perfectly it aligns with the band of light colored bricks around the middle of the building. The photographer MUST have done that intentionally, right? I especially like the way the reflections on the water turned out.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Kite Flying During the Depression

Here's an amusing photo of a relative flying a kite on a windy day in the 1930's. It certainly has the look of a Depression Era scene but could be a few years later. The picture is from the Madison County area in Indiana, perhaps it is Anderson.

The framing and composition of the photo are interesting and a bit surprising for an amateur photographer. I am told that my grandfather had a great sense of humor and several other pictures in the collection support those stories.

Revision: My mother says that this is Uncle Art's farm on 600W in Madison County.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Icy Footbridge over Fall Creek in Pendleton, Indiana, circa 1930's

This vintage photo is of a footbridge over Fall Creek in Falls Park, Pendleton, Indiana. In the early to middle 1930's, Fall Park was a frequent destination for my Grandfather's family outings. Thank you Jack for correcting my identifaction of the location.

I colorized the photo striving for a very subtle color effect like you would expect on a grey winter day.

Bridge in Winter, Near ENtrance to Falls Park in Pendleton, Indiana

Revision: According to my mother, this bridge was near the entrance to Falls Park in Pendleton Indiana, Madison County. She says the bridge has been replaced and that the new bridge is at a different angle than shown here.

I colorized the photo striving for a very subtle effect: thinking of a Christmas Card. The lamps are supposed to appear lit and showing a reflection in the ice. Comments?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Riverside Amusement Park, Indianapolis, Indiana

My first paying job was as a paper boy. I wonder how many of us got our start that way? Millions?

Eventually, I and my two brothers delivered almost every available newspaper in the area. There were times when we would have five or six different newspaper routes between us. The newspaper business was certainly different then. From Indianapolis came the Star, which was issued in the morning and the News, which was the evening newspaper. The Indianapolis News even had a very special edition called the Blue Streak which was issued even later than the News. If you lived in Anderson and got the Blue Streak in the early to mid 1960s, I either delivered it to your door, your drugstore or newsstand, or one of the downtown vending machines. The Blue Streak was very popular around race time, i.e. the entire month of May when the Indianapolis 500 time trials, race, and festivities absolutely dominated regional news. The local papers were the Anderson Herald in the morning, and the Anderson Bulletin in the evenings. We delivered them all.

As is probably common amongst us younger entrepreneurs, we were BIG on ideas and plans, and sometimes a little short on the follow-through. Our poor grandmother would drive us around delivering papers whenever it was too cold, like the entire months of January and February, or it whenever it was too hot, like all of July and August, or it was raining. Not all the time, but we contributed a bunch of miles to that blue 1963 Chevy station wagon!

My favorite paper routes were the Indianapolis News, and Blue Streak edition, because they always ran the best promotions for us to get new subscribers. A couple times a year they would even organize adults to drive a bunch of boys around to canvas neighborhoods door to door. Those nights were double-point nights so you really wanted to rack up some new subscriptions! I hardly remember any of the junk prizes we collected over the years. A lot of them were to replace the one that broke since last year. The first prize that every newspaper boy signed-up for was, of course, the tool of the trade, the wonderful mechanical contraption that a 14 year old could actually wear out before it was lost, the chrome 5 barrel change maker! Hand-warmers, some people erroneously called them pocket warmers, were fueled by lighter fluid and gave you something to fiddle with on those dark, cold, lonely morning routes in the winter. They never worked all that well, but we always owned several and it was a good excuse to have a stash of lighter fluid. Why did we need this stuff? We had newspaper routes!

There were a couple prizes you could earn that were really pretty good. One was a Turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think we overflowed on the Turkeys some years. We were poor and those Turkeys were nice to get!

The very best prize every year, and I got it every year, was a day long trip to Riverside Amusement Park in Indianapolis. We got a bus ride, a whole wad of tickets, and a box lunch which was always fried chicken, a biscuit, and a little container of Cole slaw, which I though was cold slaw for the longest time. That was a great day!

I know that the above photograph is from before WWII because those were relatives of mine. I cannot remember the real name of the ride; maybe it was just the Rocket Ride. That was a personal favorite of mine. That means that ride was there for at least 25 years!

The photo above was probably taken the same day, before WWII. I remember this ride and I was very curious about it, but I don't think it was ever operating when I was there. Just look at the construction of that ride and think about the potential lawsuits! If you look close, there is a propeller on the front, and man, it really spun fast and with enough momentum to actually decapitate a man! Not even a fence around it. Boy times have changed!

Here's a montage of the few printable photographs that I have of Riverside Amusement Park. It was the high-point of every summer when we were young.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Remembering Indianapolis, 1963

I don't have any pictures of Indianapolis from the early 1960's yet so these two from 1940 will have to do.

Here is one of those cute anonymous things that sometimes show-up in my mailbox. Since I remember 1963 pretty well, I thought it was more interesting than these sometimes are.

This is the city: Indianapolis, Indiana. The year ~ 1963.

  • A McDonalds hamburger, fries, and large Coke: 45 cents. At Burger chef; cheeseburger, fries, and a large Coke; 50 cents. (The Big Chef would not appear until 1966.)
  • A Big Chief, onion rings, and a Chocolate Coke at the TeePee drive-in; $1.20.
  • Frisch's Big Boy platter and a drink were $1.35.
  • A gallon of City Service Ethyl was 26 cents.
  • A pack of Lucky Strikes cost 20 cents (25 cents out of a cigarette machine).
  • Movies at a downtown theater (Circle, Lyric, Lowes, > Indiana, or Keith) 50 cents (before 6 PM ).
  • City bus fare was 20 cents. (2 cents more for a transfer).
  • Monthly phone bill: $4.95 (average). "Information" was free.
  • P. O. P. (Pay One Price) all day rides at Riverside Amusement Park, $1.00.
  • A day of swimming at Longacre Pool, 35 cents. (But you could go to the Garfield Park pool for 15 cents.)
  • Pay (Indiana Bell) telephones were black and "boxey" in brown booths, (ashtray equipped) with cushioned seats and sliding glass doors. A call would cost you 10 cents, but a call to the operator or Information would send your dime clanging back into the coin return. Were there still party lines?
  • Copy of The Indianapolis Times newspaper, 7 cents.
  • You could smell Wonder bread baking all over the city.
  • Half gallon of milk, 25 cents.
  • Bouncin' Bill Baker was spinning the platters on WIBC.
  • The "Emperor" and Jackson "Q" Sundae and Jay Reynolds were two? of the WIFE Good Guys.
  • Selwin was hosting the Saturday afternoon Tarzan movies on WISH-TV Ch. 8
  • Sammy Terry was giving us all "pleasant nightmares" on WTTV, Channel 4. Wilhelmina followed Sammy with an even worse movie!
  • Happy Herb brought us Popeye cartoons from the "poop deck" studio prop at Ch. 4. Cowboy Bob was still in college; Janie was a Ch 4 "intern."
  • David Letterman was a student at Broad Ripple High School.
  • Jane Pauley was a student at Warren Central.
  • Harlow Hickenlooper and Curley Meyers kept us laughing with the 3 Stooges on Saturday mornings (Ch. 6, at 9:00)
  • Dick Summers hosted the Teen Dance Party on Ch. 8. You could do the twist at Fox's Skating Rink, or at The Whiteland Barn.
  • Herman Hoglebogle was fixing problems for readers of The Indianapolis News. (Herman was created by Tom Johnson, a graduate of Broad Ripple High School 1951).
  • The Hinkle Fieldhouse, the State Fair Coliseum, and Clowes Hall were the Biggest, the best, and considered "state of the art.
  • "Debbie Drake was leading the morning exercises on Ch. 8. Jack LaLane was doing the same on Ch. 6.
  • Frances Farmer hosted the Channel 6 late afternoon movie on WFBM TV (6).
  • Ruth Lyons 50 / 50 Club took up 2 hours from 12 Noon to 2:00 PM on WLW-I Ch. 13.
  • There were no Country music radio stations in town.
  • There were many German language radio programs but no Spanish language stations. FM was strictly for classical or "show tunes."
  • You could live in Marion County, but not be a resident of the city of Indianapolis.
  • 38th Street was the line between the "haves" (North) and the "have nots" (South).
  • Greenwood was considered to be a "hick" town.
  • Castleton was a gas station.
  • Fishers was a train depot.
  • Carmel was a truck stop on Rt. 31.
  • Avon was a red flashing stop signal along Rt. 36.
  • Eagle Creek was just THAT!
  • The "max" was dinner at the King Cole Restaurant, and a show at the Embers on the North Meridian"strip" of upscale night life.
  • "Dream proms" were held at the Indiana Roof, and dinner at the Key West Shrimp House o r at Brody's". (21st &Arlington), or the Fireside steakhouse.
  • Greyhound and Trailways buses came and went from the Traction Terminal (old Interurban) shed on W. Market Street. You could catch a train to Chicago about once every hour at Union Station.....($12.00 round trip)!
  • You could fly out on a TWA or PanAm "jet" airliner at "Weir Cook Municipal Airport."
  • You got your prescriptions filled at Hooks, Haags, or Rexall drug stores.
  • You got groceries at Kroger, A & P, Standard, or Marsh supermarkets. (or at Porky Lane).
  • Interstate 465 was a short 4 lane "highway" that served only to connect you to the "big" State and National Routes
  • No cable
  • No Internet
  • No self-serve
  • No drive-thrus
  • No ATM's.

Times sure have changed in forty short years! Have fun remembering....

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shooting Matches

I came across these additional photos about shooting matches. Both were in poor condition and were difficult restorations.

I don't know where the first photograph was taken, it is not the Anderson Gun Club. It is difficult to tell, but the second closest shooter may be my grandfather. The little spot of automobiles suggests that this is the late thirties to early forties.

The person in the second photograph has a familiar looking face. He is actually demonstrating my down-fall as a marksman: the kneeling position. I could shoot consistently in the high 90's from a prone position and high seventies in the standing or off-hand position, both very competitive scores. I always shot poorly in the kneeling position and so I preferred the sitting position. When I tried out for the Purdue University shooting team I shoot off-hand and prone. When my targets were scored, several nearby team members murmured some ego boosting noises and I thought I was going to make the team. Later I discovered that in collegiate matches all team members were required to shoot from all three positions: Prone, off-hand, and kneeling! I could barely break 50 from a kneeling position!

Well, they let me practice with them a few weeks and tried to get me more stable by closing the gap between by right cheek and my right foot which is folded underneath. Eventually it was off to the student medical center for x-rays and the doctor assured me that there was no possible way that my knee could bend further, not now or ever. That was the end of my aspiration to be a champion marksman.

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Soap-Box Derby

Derby Downs, just off Madison Avenue in Anderson Indiana, was a childhood fantasy and my nemesis of unrequited love for feats of heroism that every young boy's imagination projects him into. The Soap-Box Derby. In the exuberant confidence and infallibility that only a child can truly possess, I and I alone knew the secrets of winning one of the great challenges of early manhood: lubricant, wheels with bearings aligned true and without any wobble, and aerodynamics. I doubt that I then knew the word aerodynamics, but I intuitively knew that in this race of equal weight, size, and materials, it was wind resistance that could mean the difference between humiliation and a trip to Akron Ohio.

Once each year I'd start at the bottom of the hill and watch pairs of wondrous plywood cars cross the finish line, usually within seconds of each other. Well, they weren't all wondrous; some were so primitive in comparison with the best that I vowed to do it right or not at all. That though would not hold my attention too long and soon I would hike up the hill where you could get a close look at the derby cars, I mean really study them, while they were placed in the starting blocks and awaited the count-down.

The top of Derby Downs was higher than nearly any place nearby and it offered a view of the most exciting and important places that I knew within the small domain of an 8 year old. At the bottom near the finish line was the Madison Avenue Little League Park where I gamely struggled year after year to master the game with a ball that I secretly feared whether I was at bat or in the infield. In the outfield it wasn't that I was afraid of the ball, it was the fear of humiliation at failing to catch it when it practically fell into my glove. You could see my little stretch of White River, especially the neighborhood's multipurpose swimming hole and hot fishing spot. Behind the Downs was a city dump that we would explore a couple times each summer. And, behind that, a site of great childhood anxiety; the railroad trestle over White River. Despite immense pressure from all of my friends, I never did get the nerve to walk all the way across it.

The War at Home

It was no surprise when I discovered this photo from an National Rifle Association shooting club amongst my grandfather's collection. I remember him taking me on many drives that ended up at the Anderson Gun Club when I was 8 years old or so in the late 1950's. He was an active participant in NRA shooting matches and I remember clearly his unusual bench rifle and equipment for reloading ammunition. The bench rifle, the only name that I know it by, was mounted in a vice on a stand and the shooting competition focused on the tremendous accuracy and repeatability that could be obtained from hand-loaded ammunition that was carefully weighed, measured, and assembled to obtain consistent velocity and ballistics.

My grandfather was a few years too old to fight in World War II but he served at home as a civil defense warden. So, I suspect that there may have been a relationship between his membership in the NRA and the war, and that is suggested by the photo which appears to be the early 1940's but I cannot date it with any confidence. From A Brief History of the NRA, union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate were "dismayed by the lack of marksmanship in their troops" and formed the NRA in 1871 to "promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis". The NRA actively promoted shooting sports programs among American youth and in 1906, 200 boys competed in matches at Sea Girt New Jersey, less than an hour from my home. Naturally, I grew to become interested in marksmanship and through the NRA and Boy Scouts of America I took several gun safety courses and became a pretty fair competitor myself, eventually joining the Purdue University Rifle Team for a brief period.

One aspect of the NRA's history that I found interesting and relevant is that during World War II the organization actively promoted firearms safety and marksmanship among police forces and industrial guards and even reloaded ammunition for guards and police officers. "The NRA's call to help arm Britain in 1940 resulted in the collection of 7,000 firearms for Britain's defense against a potential invasion from Germany. (Britain had virtually disarmed itself with a series of gun control laws enacted between World War I and World War II)."

This particular photo does not look like the Anderson Gun Club as I remember it. Perhaps it is the Cicero Gun Club as indicated on the gun case in the foreground.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

A Farm House Then and Now

This farm house is on 900N in Alexandria Indiana. When this picture was taken in the 1930's it belonged to my great Aunt Alma and Uncle Alvie. My grandfather took this picture and that is his automobile in the driveway.

Now, I spotted the house from some distance. I think the barn and its relationship to the house is what gave it away. There was no doubt in my mind at all, so I wasn't the least surprised when my mother pulled-over to the side of the road.

When I eventually got around to looking at the photo and having a minute to contemplate it, I thought that we might have stopped at the wrong house! I brought-up the original 30's picture on my display and at first I wasn't sure. The house looked a lot different and where did those big old trees come from? If, this picture was taken in, say, 1935, then those trees are only 70 years old. They looked bigger and hence, older than that to me, but I am wrong.

I live in New Jersey now and this photo reminded me of one of those little astounding facts that you hear now and then. They were discussing the growing conflict between civilization and the exploding deer population on the local radio. I know first hand that whether you are talking about New Jersey or Indiana, the carnage on the highways is ample proof that our deer population has made a tremendous recovery in the last few decades. Anyway, someone said is was surprising given the urban sprawl, in general, but especially because New Jersey has the highest population density in the world. The authority that they were interviewing corrected them and said that it really wasn't that surprising because today there are one hundred times more trees in New Jersey than there were in 1776. Now I doubt that there are exactly one hundred times more trees, but the image was clear enough. The settlers and colonalists had strip-mined the trees so they could build their houses and farm the land.

In the past we would fly to Indianapolis for the holidays and get on that long straight stretch of I-69 that goes to Anderson. My wife would always make a couple observations as if the realization had just hit her. Right after "It's so flat!" would come "And there aren't any trees!". Completely predictable. When you drive to Indiana it doesn't have that much impact because the scenery changes so gradually.

I assume the same was true in the mid-west where farming was on a larger scale and much more recently than in New Jersey. Still, I am surprised at how big those trees have grown in the last 70 years.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Terraced Gardens: Yesterday and Today

This is the Terraced Garden in Shadyside Park in Anderson Indiana about 1938. Actually I am certain its 1938, because there are three little girls in the passageway at the top of the hill and one of them is my mother. Of course, this is a somewhat fanciful colorization of the original B&W that my grandfather took. I only had a couples things to guide me when I colorized it: my memory, which isn't so reliable; a quite idealized 1930's hand-colored postcard; and an aunt who confidently insists that the large vases were "..Primary Blue just like a Crayola Crayon". At least I got that part right.

What an idyllic place it must have been! I have found so many pictures of my family at Shadyside Park that my Mother, using her best little girl voice, joked "Did we live there?"
I was anxious to revisit the park on my next trip home so, here's a shot from Thanksgiving week, 2006. This shot was taken from very nearly the same spot as the 1938 photo but a lot has changed. Most of the interconnected waterways and ponds are gone and so are the vases. I am almost certain that I remember those vases from my childhood in the late 1950s and 1960s. Of course the plantings are completely different: missing the cut-leaf maples and dwarf blue carpet spruces. There is certainly one consistency and that is the huge tree on top of the hill. It may be a Sycamore; I cannot be sure. And too, the gas lights are authentic though they have probably been replaced. Walkways that were covered with giant slabs of granite, even in my day, are gone now, replaced by concrete sidewalks and stairs all properly equipped with hand-rails.
Times change. The man strolling in from stage-left in the original kind of says it all. There are other pictures that show dozens of people strolling the paths and stone covered walkways at Shadyside in the 1930s, and that was certainly missing when I visited it last. It was a chilly fall day but very sunny, and we only shared the park with one other couple and, ironically, a homeless person.

The Circus in my Hometown

This is one of my favorite old photos from my own collection. It shows a train car being unloaded from a Circus Train on a siding on John Street in my home town of Anderson Indiana. The photo was taken by my grandfather in the 1930s and it is one of the first that I chose to restore.
I used to walk this street going to and from school everyday and I remember the remnants of this siding but: its all gone now. It brings back a lot of memories. The vein that carried Anderson's life-blood were the train lines; not for the circus so much, but for the small industry and General Motors factories that made this town someplace on a map. I remember the circus train unloading every year when the circus broke for winter and Anderson was its home. I remember once riding on a steam engine while it shuffled cars onto the siding, courtesy of my father who worked for the railroad at that time. That may have been the last time that I saw a steam locomotive in use, at work.
Last Thanksgiving I was driving around the old town marveling at everything that has changed and everything that hasn't, when I saw a little person, a mildy disproportionant man, walking with a hold on the hand of his young child. I hadn't thought about it for decades, I guess, but when I was growing up there were always little people around town and I never see them in the places that I've lived since then. I realize now that it is a lasting impression on a town that a circus used to call home.