Hoosier History Live!
Books by Nelson Price
Feb. 25 - revised date!
Indiana is 200, and Hoosier History Live is 8
Can you believe it? Hoosier History Live has been on the air eight years.
To celebrate, we are throwing another of our famous anniversary parties!
The state of Indiana is turning 200, and Hoosier History Live is turning 8. Let's celebrate!
Feb. 6 show
At age 93, memories of Walker Theatre, Indiana Avenue and more
Now 93 years old, Mr. Ridley lived through the heyday of Indiana Avenue, when nightclubs featured jazz musicians who became national stars. He attended Attucks High School before and after service during World War II. That military service included disembarking from a ship on Utah Beach on D-Day in June 1944.
So Mr. Ridley truly has lived through history - local, national and international. He will be Nelson's studio guest to share insights as Hoosier History Live salutes Black History Month.
These days, Mr. Ridley is a beloved docent at the Walker Theatre, where he shares memories from the very beginning of the cultural landmark. During his boyhood in the 1920s and '30s, the Walker building included a basement shop, the Coffee Pot, that Mr. Ridley says became a popular hangout for his friends.
"Outside the Coffee Pot, on the corner, the young men would come and look at pretty ladies, who were all dressed up in their finery," he writes in his self-published memoir, From the Avenue. "These same ladies could enjoy the attention of the gentlemen in their zoot suits, which sported very full-legged pants and were narrow at the cuff. Some of us guys wore more conservative clothes, but all were custom made by the local tailors. ... The idea was definitely to see and be seen on this corner."
To this day, Mr. Ridley lives not far away, in the neighborhood now known as Ransom Place.
Like the Walker Theatre, Attucks High School opened in 1927. One of Mr. Ridley's older brothers, Martin, was in the first group of freshmen.
Mr. Ridley began attending Attucks in 1936 but did not graduate until 1947. That's because his high school years were interrupted by World War II. In his memoir, Mr. Ridley writes that his first experience with "blatant, hard-core" bigotry came during military training at camps in Georgia and Mississippi.
After the war, Mr. Ridley returned to Indianapolis and spent most of his career working for the U.S. Postal Service. In his memoir, he describes becoming "one of the first African Americans to work as a window clerk" in the Hoosier capital.
"I have lived through the Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights movement, integration, Vietnam, Afghanistan and the election of a black man as president of the United States," Mr. Ridley writes in his memoir. "When I stop to think about it, it is a bit overwhelming."
Mr. Ridley was born on Dec. 19, 1922. When he attended the grand opening in 1927 of the Madam Walker Theatre as a 5-year-old boy, the building's namesake had been dead for eight years.
But Madam Walker (1867-1919) had the vision for the landmark building. When it opened, it included - in addition to a stage and movie theater - corporate offices for her Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co., a beauty salon, a ballroom and the Coffee Pot cafe.
Madam Walker became wealthy by founding a company that created popular hair-care products, including shampoos, ointments and combs. While patronizing a downtown Indy theater in 1914, Madam Walker was startled when she was told tickets for blacks had increased sharply higher than admission for whites. She promptly instructed her attorney to sue the theater.
"Legend has it that she also vowed that day to build her own movie theater," writes A'Lelia Bundles, the great-great granddaughter of Madam Walker, in one of several books about her famous ancestor and the historic theater building.
As a docent at the Walker, Mr. Ridley has shared the building's history to hundreds of visitors. He also shares memories about growing up near "The Avenue," as Indiana Avenue was known during its musical and cultural heyday.
Among the popular musicians who performed in clubs on Indiana Avenue was Mr. Ridley's future father-in-law, Ben Holliman. He played the banjo, ukulele, saxophone, mandolin and other instruments. Holliman, who performed in bands with jazz notables such as Noble Sissle and Reggie Duvall, died in 1975. His daughter, Mr. Ridley's wife, Louise, a teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools, died in 2010.
Mr. Ridley met his future wife when they attended kindergarten at former IPS School 4.
Roadtrip - Chapel in the Meadow at Camp Atterbury
Guest Roadtripper Rachel Hill Ponko, director of public relations at the Indiana Historical Society, suggests a visit to Camp Atterbury, south of Indianapolis near Edinburgh and now a training base for the Indiana National Guard.
During World War II, about 3,000 Italian POWs were housed at Camp Atterbury and were allowed to work on farms within a 25-mile radius. The Italian POWs also used scrap materials to build a chapel called the Chapel in the Meadow. There are four frescoes on the walls and two cross-shaped windows on either side of the building.
The Indiana Historical Society will open an exhibit, You Are There 1943: Italian POWs at Atterbury that will allow visitors to walk through a life-sized replica of the chapel. The exhibit is set to open in the spring of 2017.
The small Camp Atterbury Museum also is open to the public; you can an learn more about the history of the Chapel in the Meadow and of Camp Atterbury.
Famous graduates of Attucks High School include a singer who has been the star of concerts at the Madam Walker Theatre.
The soprano, an Indianapolis native who has been nominated for a Grammy Award, is best known for her opera performances, including at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. She also has performed with symphonies and opera companies everywhere from Philadelphia and San Antonio to Paris.
She graduated from Attucks in 1982, then studied at the Indiana University School of Music. In addition to opera, she performs African-American spirituals and a range of popular music.
In 2009, she was inducted into the Indianapolis Public Schools Hall of Fame.
Question: Who is she?
Please do not call in to the show until you have heard Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not call if you have won any prize from WICR during the last two months.
Underwriting the project
We are not staff members of any organization; rather, we are a small, independent production group trying to keep Hoosier History Live on the air, on the web and in your inbox. Your gift goes primarily to support those individuals who are working so hard on the project, as well as to help defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software and our audio editing costs.
If you believe in supporting local artists, writers, historians and performers, look no further!
It takes only seconds to help us out. Just click the yellow "Donate" button, above. Or, if you prefer the paper method, you may make out a check to "Hoosier History Live" and mail it to Hoosier History Live, P.O. Box 44393, Indianapolis, IN 46244-0393.
We also try to maintain some of those old-fashioned journalism principles about trying to keep editorial content separate from financial contributions.
For questions about becoming an underwriting sponsor (the underwriter level includes logos on our website and newsletter and spoken credits in the live show), contact our producer, Molly Head, at email@example.com, or (317) 927-9101, or Garry Chilluffo, our media+development director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.
If you are interested in forming your own listening group, all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device. A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business.
The Central Library in Indianapolis is willing to provide a space for a listening group if someone would volunteer to host the group. For more info, contact producer Molly Head.
Feb. 13 show
Maps of Indiana
On a map created in 1778, the name "Indiana" appears for a region that later became part of West Virginia. Other maps from the late 1700s and early 1800s reflect border disputes between Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and the Hoosier state.
During the early auto era, the first so-called "highway map" of Indiana may have been one distributed in 1919. A map of Indiana's gravel roads was produced in 1895, while a bicycle route map helped 1901 travelers.
All of them will be among the historic maps we will explore when Nelson is joined in studio by two Indiana Historical Society staff members. Eric Mundell and Amy Vedra are co-authors of Mapping Indiana (IHS Press), a new book that features 107 of the more than 1,700 maps in the society's collections. A special exhibit, also titled "Mapping Indiana," has opened at the IHS; like the book, the exhibit includes Old World depictions of North America, including the area that became Indiana.
"Early mapmakers often were working with unknown areas," notes Eric, a sixth-generation Hoosier who is the director of collections management at the IHS. Amy, his colleague, is a native of Griffith in northwest Indiana and the IHS director of reference services.
Among the oldest maps in the IHS collection - which spans five centuries - is one created in 1540 by Sebastian Munster, a well-known German mapmaker. Although its depiction of North America is "malformed," as Amy puts it, our guests report that the map has held up well because it, like others during the era, was created on "rag paper," a type of cloth.
In Indianapolis, early mapmakers included civic leader William Sullivan (1803-86), an engineer and surveyor who created hand-drawn "bird's-eye view" depictions of the Hoosier capital during the 1830s. Mapping Indiana also includes early bird's-eye view" depictions of such Hoosier cities as Lafayette, South Bend, Greencastle and Madison.
How to Drive to Brown County is the title of a map produced in 1918 for early motorists. The map includes "road conditions" information as it guides travelers to the isolated, hilly county then becoming known for its colony of artists that included Hoosier Group painter T.C. Steele.
According to our guest Eric Mundell, investors in the undeveloped region labeled "Indiana" (that later became a portion of West Virginia) on the 1778 map included Benjamin Franklin. A settlement planned for the area in the late 1770s never happened.
But the word "Indiana" continued to pop up on maps of wilderness areas that eventually became parts of other states - indicating the name was being kept in mind as pioneers moved west.
Calendar itemkeeper, listening-group host opportunities
Would you be interested in placing the Hoosier History Live show topic and dates and times and ways to listen on the Bicentennial calendar and various other free community calendars across the state? This is rather detailed online weekly public relations work, but it would help get the word out about our show. If interested, please email email@example.com, and please include your phone number.
Would you be interesting in hosting or facilitating a listening group at Central Library in Indianapolis each week? You would be responsible for being there each week during the live show and making sure a listening device is available. And generally facilitating the discussion. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your phone number.
A note of support
'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'
A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!
Shows, we got shows
We have more than 200 Hoosier History Live! radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. And we need to get show audio onto the website, which we are doing by and by, but we sure could use some sponsorship assistance as we edit and publish audio for each archived show. Take a look at the list below and check out all the opportunities for sponsoring a slice of original Hoosier History Live! content on the Web.
No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live!, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.
What people are saying about Hoosier History Live!
"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."
Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer
"The folks at Hoosier History Live! are able to find great stories and the people to tell them - people and stories that you seldom hear on the national air."
Dr. James H. Madison, author and IU history professor
"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant' to today's digitally obsessed consumers, Hoosier History Live! seems to have mastered that formula."
Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener
"Hoosier History Live! is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live! and be prepared to be surprised."
James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre
"Hoosier History Live! is a fantastic opportunity for people to not only learn about history, but also become a part of the conversation. Much like our mission, the telling of Indiana's stories, Nelson and his guests wonderfully connect people to the past!"
"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live! enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."
"Distilling life experience into stories is an art. Telling stories of life experience for Hoosiers past and present will shape the lives of young people and enrich the lives of all in our state. Mr. Nelson Price brings alive the life experience of notable Hoosiers in Hoosier History Live!"
David T. Wong, Ph.D., President
"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live!"
"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"
Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007
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