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....