Underground Railroad reality and myths
(Aug. 23, 2014 - encore presentation) - If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.
To share insights about the myths and reality regarding the extent and nature of the Underground Railroad network in Indiana - including what is and isn't confirmed - two experts join Nelson in studio during this encore broadcast. (The original air date of this show was June 29, 2013.)
Nelson's guests are Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum, and historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis. Dona also is a board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a nonprofit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state.
Oral histories, diaries, notations in family Bibles and letters have been crucial in figuring out the routes, buildings and people associated with the effort to help runaway slaves - or freedom seekers - as they passed through Indiana.
According to several accounts, St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, served an integral role with slaves as they headed north. And because of the prevalence of anti-slavery Quakers in Wayne County and other parts of far-eastern Indiana, that region also had a flurry of clandestine activity.
During the show, Dona and Kisha also discuss the frequency with which so-called slave catchers from the South - often mercenaries - combed Indiana in search of freedom seekers.
Article details 'overlooked yet influential Hoosiers'
(July 6, 2014) - Hoosier History Live's host, Nelson Price, has penned an article for indystar.com that focuses on notable Hoosiers, present and past, who deserve more attention.
Says Nelson: "I picked five diverse Hoosiers, three of them historic figures and two contemporary. One of the latter is archaeologist/anthropologist Christopher Schmidt (of U Indy's Indiana Prehistory Lab), whom I regard as a rock star. He has been a radio show guest twice so far."
Others in the article include:
So ... click over to the story on the indystar.com website and take a look at Nelson's most recent published piece of history journalism!
Another rousing success!
The sixth anniversary party for Hoosier History Live! on Feb. 27 was yet another rousing success.
About 200 guests hailing from all corners of the state, from Fort Wayne to Jeffersonville, attended our gala, which was hosted by Indiana Landmarks at their state headquarters, the beautifully renovated Central Avenue United Methodist Church.
The party was attended by dozens of the distinguished Hoosiers who have been studio guests on the radio show during the last six years, including notables such as novelist James Alexander Thom and his wife, Dark Rain Thom; Jane “Janie” Hodge, the pioneer of children's TV programming, and Jesse Kharbanda, president of the Hoosier Environmental Council.
Hoosier History Live! wishes to thank the following performers, costumed re-enactors and others who contributed to the evening's success: Hank Fincken as Johnny Appleseed, Danny Russel as Abe Lincoln, kilted members of the Scottish Society of Indianapolis as a nod to our many programs about ethnic groups in Indiana, Shirley Judkins on the grand piano performing Indiana's Songwriter Legends, and Janet Gilray as "Ms. Melody" of Legacy Keepers and Dan Wethington of bluegrass band Cornfields & Crossroads. Photos by Frank Espich of the Indianapolis Star.
Birthday cake and mini cupcakes by Chef Maureen Dunlap, and photography by Bill Holmes.
Acknowledgments also to Garry Chilluffo, Mark Szobody, Marsh Davis, Sharon Gamble, Doris Bond, Laura Yeo, Leah Cody, Carol Simmons, Gary BraVard, Clayton Ryan, Jed Duvall, Lockerbie Pub, Richard Sullivan, Pam Fraizer, Tom Rea, Lorraine Vavul and Jeanne Blake.
Lenape (Delaware) Indian heritage in Indiana
(Aug. 16, 2014) - "I think in Indiana, as in many places, it's only been in the last 30 to 40 years that we've chosen to look outside of myth ... to truly understand the first peoples who lived in our state."
The Lenape lived in the woodlands of east central Indiana from the 1790s into the early 1820s; during that time, they founded villages or trading posts that evolved into towns, including Anderson, Muncie and Strawtown.
Under the terms of the Treaty of St. Mary's negotiated in 1818, the Lenape gave up their claims to Hoosier soil and, as part of what has been called a "forced migration," moved a few years later to Kansas.
Eventually, the Lenape were moved again, this time to Oklahoma, the tribe's home state in modern times.
Considering that the Lenape had lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware for generations even before being relocated to the Indiana Territory, is it any wonder that one expert in the documentary calls them "possibly the most-moved group in American history"?
To explore the tribe's life on Hoosier soil and impact here, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
During the early 1800s, Lenape leaders in Indiana included Chief William Anderson, for whom the largest city in Madison County is named. The Lenape who moved to Kansas included Anderson's daughter, Mekinges, who became the first wife of frontier entrepreneur and fur trader William Conner, namesake of Conner Prairie. They had six children, all of whom moved with their mother to Kansas; Conner remained in Indiana, remarried (a white woman) and had more children with his second wife.
During one of the first Hoosier History Live! shows after our debut in January 2008, we explored some aspects of the Lenape (Delaware) tribe in a show about the publication of Long Journey Home (Indiana University Press, 2008). It's a book of oral histories and color photos put together by Indianapolis-based author Rita Kohn and photojournalist Jim Brown.
Our upcoming guest Chris Flook and other Ball State faculty and students already have won four national awards for The Lenape on the Wapahani River. According to their documentary, the Lenape were known as "the grandfather tribe" when they lived near the Delaware River and elsewhere on the East Coast and in the mid-Atlantic region.
By the 1790s, when the Lenape were moved to the dense forests of central Indiana, though, they had lost stature, their numbers "decreased by disease and warfare," the documentary notes. The diseases included smallpox, influenza and other illnesses brought by European settlers to which Native Americans had not developed immunity.
Our guest Mike Pace, a former assistant chief of the Delaware Tribe, has spoken across the country - and even overseas - about aspects of Native American heritage.
In addition to helping oversee the new documentary about the Lenape, our guest Chris Flook put together Indiana's Courthouse Squares, a website showcasing all 92 county courthouses and town squares (or their equivalents) in the state. In connection with that project, Chris was a guest May 23 for a Hoosier History Live! show focusing on Courthouse Squares across Indiana.
During the early 1800s, a Native American tribe flourished across much of the northern one-fourth of what become the state of Indiana. In fact, many names of towns, lakes and parks in far-northern Indiana are derived from this tribe's language. Examples include Lake Maxinkuckee at Culver; the town of Wakarusa and Pokagon State Park.
Known for their colorful attire, the Native American tribe often wore ruffled shirts, jewelry and pants with ribbons instead of the buckskin worn by some other tribes. In 1838, this tribe was forced out of Indiana by white soldiers who led Native American men, women and children on a grueling march to Kansas, during which dozens of Indians died from disease, exhaustion and other factors.
Question: Name the Native American tribe.
The prize pack includes two tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that, "Just up the old Michigan Road from Indy, about 75 miles, is Logansport in Cass County, which, given its key location at the confluence of two rivers (the Eel and the Wabash), was an original town on this historic route."
Logansport, she also notes, also was a port on Wabash and Erie Canal.
"I'd always been intrigued by this town, with its plethora of historic buildings and layers of transportation history, but in recent years Logansport has been making very good use of its historic assets. In 2009 it was designated a Preserve America Community."
A historic railroad depot anchors a riverside public space, the Little Turtle Waterway Plaza, a nice place to start an exploratory walk downtown that still boasts a number of great old buildings, many of which now house interesting shops and restaurants.
In the past few years quite a lot of new public sculpture has appeared downtown, including a carousel horse. Clearly, this is a tribute to the 19th-century carousel carved by master craftsman Gustav A. Dentzel in Riverside Park on Logansport's east side. Despite the fact the carousel is a National Historic Landmark, rides are only 75 cents. Maybe you'll catch the brass ring!
Riverside Park, as its name implies, is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Don't miss the miniature golf course not far from the carousel!
Adds Glory: "I'm fond of old drive-in restaurants, and Logansport has two I recommend. The Char-Bett is located in a 1930s former gas station on the outskirts of town on the old Michigan Road (State Road 25) heading northeast toward Rochester: tasty drive-in food and all manner of ice cream treats, including sodas, which can be hard to find these days. And the Sycamore Drive-In is just off old U.S. 24, once a major route, at 316 20th St. They, too, offer sodas among their ice cream treats and a nice assortment of drive-in fare."
The Redheads and all-girl bands of 1920s, '30s
(Aug. 9, 2014) - Even though they became nationally known during the 1920s as The Parisian Redheads, many of the band members were not red-haired - and, rather than Paris, they were based in Indiana.
In the 1930s, the all-female orchestra/dance band, which was promoted as "America's Greatest Girl Band," became known as The Fourteen Bricktops.
The colorful history of the now-forgotten novelty band - which was based in Indianapolis, with a pianist born in the eastern Indiana town of Portland, a saxophonist from Elwood, a harpist from Richmond and other Hoosier "lady musicians" - is the focus of our show. Nelson is joined in studio by Evan Finch, an Indy-based advertising copywriter who has extensively researched The Parisian Redheads and other all-female orchestras.
"So-called 'ladies' orchestras had existed since the late 19th century due to the fact that male orchestras rarely hired female musicians," Evan notes in an article in the upcoming summer issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine. It's the popular magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society.
"As a result, women formed their own groups."
However, the impresarios behind The Parisian Redheads were two men, Charles Green and Harry Z. Freeman of Indianapolis, both of whom had experiences with organizing musical programs on the Chautauqua circuit. That well-known cultural circuit also had provided opportunities for many of The Parisian Redheads, several of whom were classically trained musicians, according to Evan's article.
"By the end of 1926, the group had become a local sensation," Evan writes. "In Indianapolis alone, within a space of four weeks, the Parisians played a reception forQueen Marie of Romania, opened the city's Marott Hotel and graced the stage of the Circle Theatre."
Of the original Redheads, only pianist/singer Martha Tripper (a Portland native who later moved to Kokomo) was a natural redhead, Evan reports.
"The other women were required either to dye their hair or wear red wigs when appearing in public. In the name of success, the musicians went along with the gimmick, although not always happily."
The Redheads expanded to a 13-piece orchestra in 1927 and attained national success. According to Evan, the performers eventually included a "Mistress of Ceremonies," a woman who dressed in a man's tuxedo and "sang, danced, conducted and otherwise functioned as the band's public face."
Some fun facts:
During the show, we feature some musical interludes to give listeners a flavor of the Redheads (Bricktops) in performance.
Evan and Nelson also share info about other all-female musical groups from Indiana. They have included the Hampton Sisters, who went, as the Indianapolis Star once put it, "from a child act to jazz legends."
The Hampton Sisters included pianist Aletra Hampton and bassist Virtue Hampton Whitted, who were 92 and 84 years old, respectively, when they died just months apart in 2007. The group also included, at various times, two other Hampton sisters, Carmelita and Dawn.
Group members also changed over the years with The Parisian Redheads-turned-Fourteen Bricktops (also known by other names, such as the Paramount Parisians, early on).
Even though the Bricktops broke up in the 1930s, some of the musicians enjoyed flourishing careers long afterward. Bricktop member Ruth Hutchins Thrasher became, as Evan puts it, "a valued member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra - and played several different instruments for them over the course of four decades."
Why the emphasis (or insistence) on red hair?
"In addition to adding an extra layer of novelty, red hair gave the band a visual identity - and a hair color associated with free-spiritedness seems in tune with the Jazz Age," Evan writes in his upcoming Traces article.
He notes that, as the years passed, dozens of women musicians from across the country joined the band. But the group always had Indiana musicians, including Bobbie Greiss, a singer-dancer who grew up in Indianapolis and was recruited as the group's conductor. Trumpet player Lillian Evans was a native of Dublin in Wayne County, while another trumpeter, Alice Miller, attended Tech High School in Indy.
Other members of the Parisians (or of the Bricktops) included saxophonist Bernice Lobdell of Huntington; accordionist Jeane Brown of Greencastle, and saxophonist Marietta Gift of Converse.
In 1929, the band played the Palace in New York City and shared a bill with the famous Marx Brothers. As the vaudeville circuit declined, the Bricktops transformed into a dance band.
"The success of the Parisian Redheads and the Fourteen Bricktops proved that a band of women could compete successfully with men, both in terms of performance and financial reward," Evan writes.
He adds: "In the many years since the Bricktops' dissolution, opportunities for female musicians have improved. In 2010, it was estimated that the membership of America's top 15 orchestras - once almost exclusively male - had become 35 percent female."
To learn more, Evan recommends:
One of the country's most popular bandleaders during the 1930s and '40s was a native of Linton, Ind. He grew up in the town in the far-western part of the Hoosier state, then enjoyed great success at nightclubs during the Big Band era.
The native Hoosier also was a hit on radio as the sidekick to comedian Jack Benny during the 1930s and '40s. Eventually, the bandleader starred in his own radio show with his wife, a glamorous movie star. He also appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, often playing a character like himself.
But his best-known connection to the movies may have been serving as the voice of an animal in a Disney cartoon movie. The bandleader died in 1995 at age 91.
Question: Who was he?
The prize pack includes two tickets to Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre and two passes to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Roadtrip: Roberts Settlement in Hamilton County
Guest Roadtripper Kisha Tandy, a curator at the Indiana State Museum, suggests a Roadtrip to Roberts Settlement, which once was a flourishing farm community of African-American pioneers from North Carolina who moved north to make their home in Jackson Township in Hamilton County.
The history of Roberts Settlement sheds light on a group of individuals who owned land and established communities in Indiana before 1850.
The first residents to Roberts arrived in 1835 as free blacks. The settlement included homesteads and a school and church. Descendants continue to meet annually on July 4th for the Roberts Settlement Annual Homecoming to celebrate their family and heritage. And one always can stop by to look at the Roberts Chapel Church and Cemetery.
Kisha also recommends the book Southern Seed, Northern Soil (IU Press, 2002) by Stephen Vincent about African-American farming communities in the Midwest. She also reports that a documentary has been made about the topic; learn more on Saturday's show.
(Aug. 2, 2014) - Carmel resident Natalia Rekhter immigrated from Russia in 1991. So she is among those who have come from her homeland to Indiana since the mid-1980s, which is when the bulk of immigration from Russia here began - much later than that of many of the other ethnic heritage groups that Hoosier History Live! has explored in our rotating series. The exceptions involve significant Russian Jewish immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Here is a link to Natalia's blog.
Natalia, who immigrated with her husband and young son, will be among Nelson's studio guests. She is director of development at the Indianapolis Russian School, which was founded 21 years ago by a group of Russian immigrants who wanted their children to learn about their heritage. Beyond classes in the Russian language, the school offers instruction in everything from math to chess.
In addition to a growing Russian community in the Indianapolis area, New Castle also has become the home of many immigrants since the mid-1980s, Natalia reports. She is originally from Ivanovo, a Russian province about 200 miles north of Moscow.
In an article in The Indianapolis Star last February, Natalia, 47, indicated that economic reasons motivated her family's immigration. In Russia, four generations of her family (six people) lived in a two-bedroom apartment.
Alex, who also makes musical instruments and is a violinist, grew up in Moscow. He immigrated in 1989 - a few months before the breakup of the Soviet Union - with his wife, daughter and parents. In his homeland, Alex had played the violin in a prestigious orchestra based in Moscow. He says his family primarily immigrated because of "political differences" in his homeland.
In addition to Alex and Natalia, Nelson will be joined by Carmel resident Anastasia Klauz, 24, whose family is from St. Petersburg. They immigrated when Anastasia was just 4 years old. Today, she is a family therapist for Eskenazi Health.
According to Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996), large waves of Jewish immigration to the United States from Russia - as well as from Poland, Lithuania, Romania and other Eastern European countries - occurred from 1880 to 1924.
In Indiana, the major areas of settlement tended to be in the northwest part of the state, as well as in Indianapolis and Vincennes. Decades later - during the Soviet Union era - Jewish organizations across Indiana helped with the resettlement of other waves of immigrants.
According to the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, many Russian immigrants or Americans with Russian heritage settled - at least temporarily - in Bloomington "at the height of the Cold War" during the early 1960s.
That’s because Russian language instruction was being offered by IU and the U.S. Air Force.
"During World War II, IU began a long partnership with the U.S. military to teach foreign languages," the institute notes.
"Bloomington in the 1960s had a very large Russian community," according to the IU institute. "The decade was an ideal time for IU students to study the Russian language. While many Russians moved away when the Air Force Language Program ceased, there remained a corps of instructors."
Since 2009, the Indianapolis Russian School - that our guest Natalia Rekhter is affiliated with - has been located at University High School, a private, college prep school in Carmel. The Russian school offers piano lessons for children 5 years old and older; private tutoring for children and adults in the Russian language; document translation and other services.
In our rotating series about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state, Hoosier History Live! has explored German, Irish, Scottish, Brazilian, Columbian and Venezuelan, Greek and Cuban immigration, among an array of others. In 2008, our first year on the air, we explored our state's Jewish heritage. Last summer, we delved into aspects of Swedish and Norwegian heritage.
(Note: We are linking to past show newsletters for shows produced since October of 2009. The German, Scottish, and Greek heritage shows were produced before that time. We need support for archiving all of our 300-plus show enewsletters and audio archives. We are operating on a very limited budget.)
Mikhail Baryshnikov, the expatriate Russian dancer, has collaborated several times with a famous choreographer born in Indiana. She was the choreographer for the 1985 movie White Nights, which starred Baryshnikov and was set in Russia. During the 1990s, the choreographer toured with Baryshnikov; they performed concerts in Indiana and elsewhere across the country that featured various forms of dance.
She was born in the town of Portland in far-eastern Indian in 1941. She has gone on to become a dominant international figure in dance, winning Tony and Emmy Awards. In addition to collaborating with Baryshnikov, she has collaborated with pop star Billy Joel for a Broadway show and choreographed sequences for the movie Amadeus (1984). In 2008, she was honored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Question: Who is the Indiana-born choreographer?
The prize pack includes a four tickets to the tickets to the Hoosier Hops & Harvest Festival at Story Inn, courtesy of Story Inn, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Vernon, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and freelance writer and photographer Jane Ammeson, who specializes in food, travel and personalities, suggests a Roadtrip to the charming town of Vernon in Jennings County, which is about 70 miles southeast of Indianapolis. That's Vernon, the historic village south of the larger town of North Vernon!
Jane reports that on July 11, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, who was marauding through southeastern Indiana after crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky, arrived with his men just south of Vernon on the banks of the Muscatatuck River. Having defeated the Indiana Home Guard near Corydon, Morgan and his raiders had looted and burned their way through the hamlets dotting this part of the state.
Morgan demanded the town surrender, but instead of laying down arms, Colonel Hugh T. Williams of the Indiana Legion told Morgan he "must take it by hard force."
Instead Morgan moved on to DuPont, where he and his men stole 2,000 hams from Frank Mayfield's meat packing plant and tied them to their saddles before riding on again.
"We bluffed him," says Wanda Wright of the Jennings County Historical Society Museum. "He didn't even come into Vernon."
Listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, Vernon, platted in 1815 which is a year before Indiana became a state, is considered one of the best examples of a mid-19th-century Indiana community. More than 100 of its buildings date back to the 1800s, which is remarkable in a town with a population of less than 400. T.C. Steele, one of the state's most famous artists, used Vernon as the scenes for some of his best works including Street in Vernon (1886), Oaks of Vernon (1887), Vernon Beeches (1892) and Hills of Vernon (1894).
The Jennings County Historical Society is headquartered in an old stagecoach stop and inn built in 1838, located near the town square with its 1859 Italianate-style courthouse.
Vernon also hosts a huge Antique and Collectibles Market each Labor Day weekend!
Vernon and Jennings County are also the settings for the 1956 movie Friendly Persuasion starring Gary Cooper and Dorothy McGuire about a Hoosier Quaker family during the Civil War. The movie is based on Jessymyn West's novel 1945 novel, The Friendly Persuasion, about the same topic. Jessymyn West was born in Vernon in 1902 to a Quaker family and moved to California with her family when she was 6.
Indy Mayor Ballard on Marines history and 'old' Cathedral High
(July 26, 2014 - encore presentation) - An Indianapolis native, he grew up on the Eastside, attended the "old" Cathedral High School (when it was located downtown and had all male students) and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
So there's much local history turf to cover with Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis as he joins Nelson in-studio during an encore presentation of a show exploring history topics that have been intertwined with his life. (The original air date of this show was June 15, 2013.)
You won't want to miss Mayor Ballard's recollections of incidents that unfolded during the years that he hitchhiked from his Eastside neighborhood to Cathedral. Like generations of teenage boys before him who attended the downtown Cathedral, Greg Ballard, a member of the Class of '72, relied primarily on hitchhiking to get to and from school for four years.
During the show, Mayor Ballard, now 59, also shares details about the unlikely way his decision to enlist in the Marines occurred. After a 23-year military career, Mayor Ballard, a Republican, retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Marines in 2001 and returned to his hometown to enter private business.
He also discusses other links between the Hoosier state and Marines, in addition to sharing his own experiences. His decision to enlist eventually led to assignments in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War; and Stuttgart, Germany, as well as in Michigan and North Carolina.
Before that, the future mayor attended Cathedral on a scholarship. His years there were preceded and followed by major changes. Since its founding in 1918, Cathedral had been located at 14th and Meridian streets.
In 1976, four years after he graduated, Cathedral merged with Ladywood, an all-girls Catholic academy located on the northeastside, a decision that was presented as a financial necessity for both schools. (The merged, co-ed school, which took the Cathedral name, is on the former Ladywood site on East 56th Street.) Previously, while Greg Ballard was attending Cathedral, Ladywood had merged in 1971 with Cathedral's "sister" school downtown, St. Agnes Academy.
Greg Ballard grew up in a family of five children. After graduating from Cathedral, he attended Indiana University, where a pivotal event occurred related to his decision to join the Marines.
He had never run for political office before defeating incumbent Bart Peterson in the 2007 mayoral election in what has been called one of the biggest upsets in Indy's political history.
Hoosiers who have achieved distinction in the Marines - and are discussed during the show - include David Shoup (1904-1983), a Tippecanoe County native who grew up on farms there and near Covington. A Medal of Honor winner during World War II, Shoup led the U.S. invasion during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theater of the war. He rose to become the 22nd commandant of the U.S. Marines Corps, serving in the top post during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Shoup, who later became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Other Hoosiers who have served in the Marines - and who are discussed by Mayor Ballard during the show - include Carol Mutter, a retired lieutenant general who lives in Brownsburg. She was born in Colorado and became the first woman to receive the rank of lieutenant general in the Marine Corps.
Encore Roadtrip: Monument Circle for kids
Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications reported that she took her kids for a recent tour of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Her children were fascinated by Christ Church Cathedral, with its early gothic revival architecture, Tiffany stained-glass windows and pipe organ.
Kelly's daughter had studied President Lincoln in school and was fascinated to learn that the church bells had rung out as Lincoln's body lay in state at the nearby Capitol.
Kelly and crew then crossed the street, headed up the 330 steps (yes, walked!) to the observation level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for a great view of the city, and they visited the Civil War Museum in the lower level.
They topped off their Roadtrip with ice cream from the Chocolate Cafe, and then a quick trip back in time for Kelly at Rocket Fizz, a candy shop with nearly every type of novelty candy. Both of these sweet spots are right on the Circle.
From family grocers to supermarkets
(July 19, 2014) - For about 103 years, the Italian ancestors of Tom Castaldi were in the food business, primarily in Logansport, where they owned neighborhood grocery stores. Beginning in the 1880s, his great-grandparents' store sold not just "fruits, vegetables, tobaccos, but also ice cream and (even) featured an oyster bar," according to Tom.
For generations, these family-owned stores were cherished in neighborhoods and villages across the state, from Lockerbie and Broad Ripple in Indianapolis to Logansport, where a candy case from the final Castaldi family's store is displayed at the Cass County Historical Museum.
In addition to exploring family-run grocery stores and their social impact, Hoosier History Live also delves into the entree across Indiana of grocery chains, including those that eventually introduced the supermarket concept.
Indianapolis-based writer, researcher and editor Sharon Butsch Freeland (writer of several Historic Indianapolis articles) dug into the entrance of Cincinnati-based Kroger in the Indy market for a Feb. 12, 2013, article at historicindianapolis.com.
According to Sharon's thoroughly researched piece, Kroger entered the Indianapolis market clear back in the mid-1920s by acquiring an existing family-owned chain of 72 neighborhood groceries. So the initial Kroger stores in the Hoosier capital undoubtedly were located in small storefronts; the supermarket concept was introduced later.
Tom and Sharon join Nelson in studio to share insights about family-owned neighborhood groceries and their modern-era successors, the supermarket chains. This show undoubtedly will include tidbits about the evolution of the ways Hoosiers have shopped, cooked and lived.
Some history facts:
Tom's great-grandfather, Lorenzo Solimano, had been born in Genoa, Italy in 1838. With his wife Mary, Lorenzo (who changed the spelling to Laurence) opened the first Logansport store in the 1880s. The last store was closed in 1983. The exhibit about the stores at the Cass County Historical Museum is titled "Growing Up Grocery."
"Customers came in the neighborhood store up to the counter and gave their list of items - one by one - to the owner or clerk, who, in turn, fetched them off the shelf and stacked them on the counter," Tom recalls.
He adds: "My grandfather or father may not find it unusual to see hardware items in a modern 'mega-market.' But they would be rather surprised that I got my flu and shingles shots in a grocery pharmacy department."
The debut of the supermarket concept - which involves customers helping themselves to spacious aisles of products in a free-standing store with its own expansive, often four-sided parking lot - is unclear.
According to some accounts, the A&P chain introduced the supermarket concept in the 1930s in Pennsylvania. Other accounts point to a Kroger store in the Queens borough of New York City, also in the 1930s. The supermarket concept grew rapidly after World War II.
According to Sharon's research, a pivotal episode in the Indy area was the opening of a so-called "drive-in" Kroger (that is, a store with its own, expansive parking lot), which made the front page of The Indianapolis News in 1932.
"Before the 1930s, most grocery stores were narrow storefronts in commercial buildings that also contained other types of businesses, or groceries were rooms added on to the fronts of residences," Sharon notes. "Customers walked or took a bus to the nearest neighborhood business to get their goods, and usually bought only what they needed for that day or a few coming days."
In 1931, Marsh had opened its first store; it was in Muncie. According to an article in The Indianapolis News in 1961, at which point the chain had 65 stores in five states, the first Marsh in Indy opened at East 52nd Street and Keystone Avenue in 1957. (Generations of family ownership of Marsh ended in 2006 when the company was purchased by Sun Capital Partners, based in Florida.)
O'Malia Food Markets made its debut in 1966 with a grocery in Carmel. Generations of Indy shoppers also patronized Atlas at East 54th Street and College Avenue (where a teenage David Letterman was a clerk in the 1960s), and Guidone, a grocery store at East 10th Street and Arlington Avenue owned by Italian immigrant Joe Guidone that was popular during the 1960s and '70s.
Small, family-owned stores of yore like the ones owned by the Italian ancestors of our guest Tom Castaldi often offered two cherished services, he notes: "No-interest credit and home delivery."
However, Tom notes the selection of grocery items was limited compared to modern supermarkets.
"Perhaps the neighborhood grocery had two types of pork and beans, or green beans, in cans on the shelf. Now the 'mega-stores' have shelving in rows as long as our entire building, with many brands of the same vegetable type."
He describes his growing-up years in a house adjacent to his family's grocery store this way: "It was like having a huge pantry available."
In the 1890s, a Civil War resident living in Greenwood started a dairy business that became one of the best-known in Central Indiana for more than 60 years.
The dairy's headquarters on East 15th Street in Indianapolis was particularly memorable. Its corners were shaped like giant milk bottles. At stables nearby, the dairy kept horses to deliver milk to customers.
At one point, the dairy became the largest milk company in the state. It was sold in 1963 to Maplehurst Jersey Farms.
Question: What was the dairy?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to McNiven's restaurant and two passes to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Roadtrip: More Swiss adventures, and 'bird town' designation
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who also volunteers at several conservation organizations, including ACRES, DNR and Limberlost, adds to last week's Berne report with notice of its upcoming Swiss Days festival on July 24, 25 and 26.
Terri reports that Swiss Days are celebrated with authentic Swiss costumes, great foods, crafts and merchandise, and you can also enjoy polka, accordions, gospel singers, a quilt show, an antique tractor and engine show, sawmill demonstrations, cheese making, wiener-dog races, sand sculptures, kid's tractor pull and a parade. Indiana certainly cherishes its many ethnic traditions.
During the festival, Berne will also be named "Bird Town No. 7" by the Indiana Audubon Society. This is a designation awarded to those communities that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the protection of birds. Other "Bird Town" Hoosier communities include Geneva, Chesterton, Rome City, Nashville, Fort Wayne and Kendallville.
Judge Sarah Evans Barker, history-maker in Indiana courts
(July 12, 2014) - Even before becoming Indiana's first woman federal judge, Sarah Evans Barker was making history. More than 40 years ago, she became the first woman in the Hoosier state to be an assistant U.S. attorney.
Now, as U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker shifts to "senior status" - that is, a reduced caseload (only by 20 percent, though) - she is Nelson's in-studio guest, as Hoosier History Live! focuses on her pioneering life and career.
Known for her keen insights, eloquence and wit, Judge Barker also, for more than 20 years, has been a top civic leader in her home state, a distinction that has been noted in her raft of honors. They have included being named a Living Legend in 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society and, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement honoree of the 2014 Cultural Vision Awards.
She also is renowned, every July 4 season, for presiding at the naturalization ceremonies for hundreds of immigrants as they become new U.S. citizens.
A native of Mishawaka, Judge Barker has said she was a "late bloomer" and did not set out to become a judicial pioneer - or even, necessarily, a lawyer. In a recent interview with Nuvo Newsweekly, which presents the Cultural Vision Awards, Judge Barker attributed her decision to attend law school to a pivotal piece of advice she received at Indiana University.
Years later, after her marriage to Ken Barker, then a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis, the couple made another major decision. More than 35 years ago, they decided Ken Barker would be a stay-at-home dad (with their three children) while she pursued her legal career.
"There were no patterns," Judge Barker once told the Indianapolis Business Journal. "We had to make it up as we went."
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan nominated her at age 40 to be U.S. judge of the southern district of Indiana, with the result that she became the first woman on the federal bench in the Hoosier state.
Since then, Judge Barker has presided over several of the most high-profile federal cases in the state, including those involving overcrowding at the Marion County Jail, a proposed ban in Indianapolis on pornographic material, the sale of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and class-action lawsuits involving Firestone tire.
She has served on national panels on judicial ethics and on the boards of history-focused organizations, including the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission that's overseeing celebrations for the state's 200th birthday in 2016.
Last month, Judge Barker served as the emcee for an Indiana State Museum Foundation gala that honored another trail-blazing woman, Rabbi Sandy Sasso of Indianapolis. Rabbi Sasso was the first woman in the country to be ordained as a rabbi in the Jewish reconstructionist movement; her pioneering role was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last October.
According to a profile of Judge Barker in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press and IBJ Media, 2009) by Michael Maurer, she grew up as a "tomboy" in Mishawaka:
"I was not interested in sewing and cooking. ... I did them, but only so I could also take woodworking and sheep-raising, which were regarded as 'boys' projects."
But she didn't consider attending law school until a dorm counselor at IU suggested it during her junior year.
Judge Barker graduated from the American University School of Law in Washington D.C. After that, she worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill until marrying Ken Barker, whom she had met in Mishawaka.
In addition to being the parents of three grown children - Katie, Susan and Grady - the Barkers now are grandparents.
Some history facts:
For our show with Judge Barker, we have a special format and won't be taking call-in questions and comments from listeners. However, we will have a report from our Roadtripper correspondent and the History Mystery.
Learn more: Video interview with Judge Barker from the Indianapolis Business Journal
Although U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was born in Buffalo, N.Y., he grew up in northern Indiana and graduated from La Lumiere School, a boarding school in LaPorte.
Decades earlier, another U.S. Supreme Court justice also had deep connections to Indiana, albeit to the other end of the state. He was born in southern Indiana in 1890. His family members were farmers near the Ohio River. The future Supreme Court justice attended Indiana University, where he was a student leader.
In the 1930s, Hoosiers elected him to the U.S. Senate. A Democrat, he helped spearhead Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" legislation through Congress.
The native Hoosier was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Harry S. Truman. He served on the court from 1949 until 1956.
The prize pack includes two admissions to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Swiss-influenced Berne
Says Eric: "Berne fashions itself as a Swiss town, and they have a lot of historic and new buildings that show a Swiss influence. The area is full of Amish, so watch out that a stray horseshoe nail doesn't pop your tire. No such luck for me!"
Berne was founded in 1852 Mennonite settlers from Switzerland, and the railroad went through in 1871. Despite some new buildings, such as their 2010 clock tower, there's a lot of history in Berne. Most of the historic downtown is intact, full of nice antique stores.
There's a great cheese factory called Swissland Cheese, and there's an old restaurant in town called Palmer House that is famous for pies. If you're in a hurry, there's a newer place called The White Cottage that has excellent soups and sandwiches.
If you like bed-and-breakfasts in historic buildings, the Schug House from 1907 is an outstanding one, serving food from the local area.
Presidential visits to Indiana
Harry Truman got a speeding ticket near Greenfield during a road trip with his wife, Bess, in 1953 after they had left the White House.
During this patriotic-themed weekend, Hoosier History Live! explores the range of visits by American presidents (including future presidents, former presidents or their families) to the Hoosier state.
Nelson is joined in-studio by two author/historians who have written about some of the POTUS visits:
Of course, Benjamin Harrison, the only president elected from Indiana, made several visits to his home state after he won the country's top office in 1888.
Abe Lincoln, who lived in southern Indiana from ages 7 to 21, spoke from the balcony of the Bates House in downtown Indy as he traveled in February 1861 from Springfield, Ill., to the nation's capital for his inaugural. His talk touched on the need to preserve the Union.
During the Centennial celebrations in 1916 of Indiana's statehood, Woodrow Wilson attended a parade on Monument Circle and spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Our guest Al Hunter notes that two years earlier, when Wilson was president of Princeton, he visited Butler University, which then was located in Irvington.
Both Roosevelts - Teddy and FDR - also made multiple visits to the Hoosier state. In 1902, Teddy, who was suffering from a serious injury to his leg, spoke in Tipton and Noblesville during train stops. While in Indianapolis later on that trip, he was rushed to St. Vincent Hospital for treatment.
FDR visited Vincennes for the dedication of the George Rogers Clark Memorial in the 1930s. And in 1936, he opened the Indiana State Fair.
He stayed at the ornate French Lick Springs Hotel in 1931 when he was maneuvering to be the Democratic presidential nominee. The resort hotel became internationally known beginning in the early 1900s when it was purchased and lavishly enhanced by Thomas Taggart, a former Indianapolis mayor and nationally powerful Democratic power broker; the 1931 gathering attended by FDR was the National Governors Conference. Truman also visited French Lick in 1944.
But the best-known visit by Truman unfolded during June 1953 when the former president and his wife, Bess, took a road trip in their car - without Secret Service protection - to savor America. During the journey, which is the focus of the book Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of an American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo (Chicago Review Press, 2009), the Trumans were house guests at the North Meridian Street mansion of another nationally powerful Democrat, banker Frank McKinney Sr.
It was during this road trip that Truman received a speeding ticket near Greenfield.
So many presidents have visited Indiana during our nearly 200 years of statehood that we can't explore all of them. But here’s a sampling of others:
In October 1976, First Lady Betty Ford visited Indianapolis to celebrate the opening of a new building. It houses a cultural institution that, even then, had been a part of the community since the 1920s at various locations.
Its new building, though, was regarded as a major step forward in civic pride. Mrs. Ford received a guided tour the night before the new building opened to the public.
Question: What is the cultural institution?
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to Dick's Last Resort restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Roadtrip: Auto heritage mecca in Auburn and Dekalb County
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff asks, "How about a trip to Auburn? It really doesn't take long from Indianapolis via I-69, and you can stop in downtown Fort Wayne at the Pembroke Cafe for yummy bakery treats or an early lunch of soup, salad or sandwiches. Or catch them on the way back for supper."
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum is only one of the many intriguing places to visit in Auburn and the surrounding area, way up in the northeast corner of Indiana. The museum is an Art Deco delight, filled not only with a myriad of examples (all restored and runable!) of the three cars of its name, but numerous others, including many one-offs made in Indiana (and some cool Studebakers - Glory is from the South Bend area).
Indiana once was second only to Michigan in automobile production, and though many have closed in recent years, it remains home to a variety of auto parts manufacturers.
The A-C-D Museum focuses on the cars - and also on the men who designed and built them. The office of E.L. Cord looks as if he just stepped out for lunch, for example. Over the years, the museum has added several interactive exhibits incorporating materials from the extensive archives.
An amazing number of museums are located in and around Auburn. Adjacent to the A-C-D Museum is the National Auto and Truck Museum, located in adjacent historic buildings, containing trucks spanning several decades, as well as numerous postwar classic cars. The museum also houses a huge collection of model trucks and automobiles.
Other museums include the Hoosier Air Museum at the DeKalb County Airport on County Road 62.
And then just outside Auburn off I-69 are two separate museums funded by the Kruse Foundation, the National Military History Center and the Kruse Automotive and Carriage Museum. There are even more museums in the DeKalb County towns of Garrett and Butler.
But Auburn itself is a nice county-seat town fill of beautiful old buildings if, like Glory, you enjoy walking amidst such treasures. Don't miss the courthouse, built in 1911, and the Eckhart Library on South Jackson Street, also opened in 1911.
All this walking might leave you wanting ice cream or a little snack, and there's a great little drive-in in the 1400 block north of Main Street, the old highway going north out of town. It has just been remodeled, so it doesn't have that wonderful '60s look anymore, but, says Glory, "I can vouch for the fact that their shakes are still great!"
Passenger pigeons and other extinct or endangered birds
(June 28, 2014) - Passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets are long gone from the Hoosier state - as well as everywhere else. In fact, the last wild passenger pigeon was shot in the southeastern Indiana town of Laurel in 1902, according to one of our guests.
Not only does Hoosier History Live! explore species of birds that once existed in Indiana, we also look at some of the 26 bird species considered endangered in the state. Whooping cranes and cerulean warblers are among them. Nelson is joined by three guests:
According to our guest Don Gorney, the Carolina parakeet was "the only parrot species native to the eastern United States." It was gone from Indiana by the mid-1800s. So was the ivory-billed woodpecker, which Don describes as "the largest woodpecker found in the U.S." Like the passenger pigeon, those two species are extinct.
Whooping cranes, although small in number and listed as federally endangered, regularly migrate through Indiana, Don reports. Other species listed as endangered in Indiana - in addition to the cerulean warbler (which Don describes as "a small, bluish warbler of hardwood forests") - include the piping plover.
"This pale, small shorebird no longer nests in Indiana," Don says, "but it does migrate through in small numbers."
According to our guest Joel Greenberg, this year marks the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Although the last wild bird was shot in 1902 in Indiana, the final passenger pigeon in captivity died in 1914 in the Cincinnati Zoo.
"The story of the passenger pigeon," Joel writes, "is a cautionary tale that no matter how common something is - be it alive or something inanimate like fuel or water - we can cause its depletion if we are not careful in our use."
According to Joel's book, when European settlers arrived in North America, "25 to 40 percent of the continent's birds were passenger pigeons, traveling in flocks so massive as to block out the sun for hours or even days. The downbeats of their wings would chill the air beneath and create a thundering roar that would drown out all other sound."
Among those who documented the presence of immense flocks of passenger pigeons in the Midwest was John James Audubon (1785-1851), the famous naturalist, artist and ornithologist.
Passenger pigeons were described as trim, muscular, speedy and nomadic. Unlike the carrier pigeon (rock pigeon) that originated in Europe and is now a common site in cities, passenger pigeons were native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada, Joel notes.
In addition to the passenger pigeon and the Carolina parakeet - a gregarious species that our guest Don Gorney says traveled in "loud flocks which made it easy for farmers to shoot many of them at a time" - another extinct bird that once lived in Indiana was the Eskimo Curlew. Don describes it as "a large snowbird that once was present in very large numbers as it migrated through the United States to its breeding grounds on the Canadian tundra."
Among the species that currently are endangered in Indiana, the cerulean warbler "needs large forest blocks to nest, but this type of habitat is disappearing," Don says.
According to our guest Damon Lowe, of the 26 bird species listed as endangered in Indiana, four also are on federal lists.
The upcoming exhibit at the Indiana State Museum will explore the impact that passenger pigeons have had on society and the story of their decline as well as highlight other species that are threatened. The exhibit eventually will travel to other state historic sites, including the Limberlost and Gene-Stratton Porter sites (in Geneva and Rome City) and Angel Mounds.
Roadtrip: Upcoming county fairs
What can be more nostalgic than the sights, sounds and smells of a trip to the county fair?
Guest Roadtripper Daina Chamness of Yours Truly Foods and other culinary adventures too numerous to count will talk about upcoming county fairs.
As the Marion County Fair winds down this Sunday, you'll have the St. Joseph, Pulaski, Boone, Shelby, and Bartholomew county fairs to looks forward to around the upcoming 4th of July weekend. Tune in this Saturday for all the particulars!
In northern Indiana, a wildlife area has become a popular destination for visitors to watch thousands of a species of migratory birds that stop there during the fall. In what has been described as "one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles in the Midwest," thousands of the birds - flying from all directions, with distinctive cries - gather in the northwestern Indiana area to feed before continuing their migration to the south.
Question: What is the species of bird that gathers there by the thousands in the fall?
The prize pack includes two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Flag of Indy, anthem, 'Indiana' movie and other symbolism
(June 21, 2014) - Did you know the city of Indianapolis has an official flag? You won't confuse it with the official state of Indiana flag, which has a torch and a burst of 19 stars symbolizing the Hoosier state as the 19th to enter the Union. Gold and dark blue are the predominant colors on the state flag, which is well-known.
The obscure flag representing the Hoosier capital has a white cross and a lighter shade of blue, with a white star in the middle of a red circle. It was designed in 1962 by an 18-year-old freshman at the Herron School of Art, according to an article in The Indianapolis Star published in 2012 on the flag's 50th anniversary.
Our guest is a beloved historian who occasionally wears a lapel pin depicting the Indy flag. George Geib, who retired last month after a long career as a distinguished professor of history at Butler University, joins Nelson in studio as we explore an array of symbols for the city of Indy and for the Hoosier state. Just like our host Nelson, Professor Geib is the author of books about various aspects of Indianapolis history.
During this month that includes Flag Day, Professor Geib and Nelson also explore products created to tout the Hoosier state and its capital city, in addition to the seldom-seen city flag. (If you want to catch the flag of Indianapolis in action - flapping in the summer breeze - visit the City-County Building. Along with the American flag, the city flag flies on a pole in the courtyard on the south side of the 28-story office tower that houses city offices, including, on the top floor, Mayor Greg Ballard's office.)
By the way, the state flag also was an outgrowth of the Centennial. In 1916, the General Assembly, as part of the Centennial celebrations, called for the adoption of a state flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a contest to select the winner. Mooresville artist Paul Hadley created the design that won among more than 200 entries.
The lapel pin (depicting the city of Indy flag) worn by our guest Professor Geib was given to him by former Mayor William Hudnut. In addition to writing books about aspects of the capital city, including Indianapolis: Hoosiers' Circle City (Continental Heritage Press) and Indianapolis First (Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce), Professor Geib has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash and has served on many civic and historic boards, including the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.
Professor Geib has been investigating whether, as some sources claim, the city of Indy has an official anthem. He shares results of his research during our show.
As for Indiana, the silent movie made in 1916: Here is some of the footage (James Whitcomb Riley with Children on Lockerbie Street) featuring Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley surrounded by children on the lawn of the Lockerbie residence, now known as the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home.
According to an Indianapolis Star story in 1916, the Indiana movie also included footage of a massive pageant held for several consecutive evenings at Riverside Park that celebrated the Centennial. The pageant and other details about the way the Centennial was celebrated - as well as plans for our upcoming Bicentennial in 2016 - were explored during a Hoosier History Live! show last year with James Madison, a professor emeritus of history at IU who is a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
To give you a sampling of other film from the 1916 era, we are including this Indianapolis 1916 Ford newsreel footage featuring shots of Monument Circle, trolley cars going by, "Pearl Street, the Grand Canyon of Indianapolis," and other magnificent sights!
Also from that era, More Indianapolis 1916 features shots of Lockerbie street, James Whitcomb Riley with cigar, Centennial parade on Monument Circle with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and Indiana Governor Samuel Ralston, 30,000 schoolchildren participating in a flag drill, the (now-gone) Emrichville Bridge over White River, scenes from Riverside Park, and much more!
With Professor Geib during Saturday's show, we also explore a fascinating footnote to Indy's history known as "Hanna's Folly." In 1831, civic leader Robert Hanna launched a steamboat on the White River to prove that the waterway was so navigable that it could be a major trade route.
Problem was, the steamboat (named the Robert Hanna in his honor) ran aground on sand in the shallow White River and remained stranded for an extended period, becoming a laughingstock. Professor Geib shares details about the embarrassing incident in early Indy history.
Obviously, the ill-advised steamboat never became a symbol of the Hoosier capital.
The flag designed in 1962 that does symbolize Indy (even though many folks don't know about it) was created by Roger Gohl, a Herron freshman. According to the Indianapolis Star story, he entered the competition because he wanted the $50 offered to the winner by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.
The flag's wide, white cross symbolizes Indy as the "Crossroads of America," the city's longtime slogan.
Learn more: Indiana state symbols.
Roadtrip: Roann, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and freelance writer and photographer Jane Ammeson, who specializes in food, travel and personalities, tells us that "a former railroad town located on the Eel River in Wabash County, Roann (population 400), is hardly on anyone's list of places to go. But with a restored wooden covered bridge, grist mill built in 1855, the Paw Paw Township Carnegie Library (out of 238 such libraries, Roann's is the 214th smallest in size) and a generations-old family restaurant, Lynn's, in the downtown, Roann has kept its small town charm."
Jane Ammeson continues: "Historic homes and businesses in pristine shape, an original log cabin built in 1863 and a vibrant community heritage dedicated to the enhancement and preservation of the town's cultural and architectural heritage resulted in the Roann Historic District officially being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Roann is definitely a bypassed gem."
A few states have official state pies. The state pie of Florida is key lime pie. In Massachusetts, it's Boston cream pie. Apple pie is the official state pie of Vermont.
Since 2009, Indiana has had an official state pie. The world's largest maker of this kind of pie is located in far-eastern Indiana.
Question: What kind of pie is it?
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.
The prize pack includes a gift certificate to LePeep Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Ask Nelson - and photographer colleague, too
(June 14, 2014) - Once again, Hoosier History Live! turns the tables on our host, Indianapolis-based author/historian Nelson Price, opens the phone lines and invites listeners to call in with questions about our Hoosier heritage.
Garry, whose specialties include architectural photography, collaborated with Nelson and photo historian Joan Hostetler on Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a popular visual history book about the evolution of the Hoosier capital.
So in addition to calling Nelson with questions, listeners also ask questions of Garry, whose expertise includes many aspects of transportation history.
Between phone calls from listeners, Nelson and Garry share insights about sites featured in their Then and Now book, as well as about famous Hoosiers whom Nelson has interviewed or researched - and some of whom Garry has photographed.
They include maestro Josef Gingold, the founder of the International Violin Competition in Indy. Garry photographed Gingold (1909-1995), a distinguished professor at the world-renowned Indiana University School of Music, so the maestro's features could be embossed on the gold medal now given to winners of the violin competition.
Professor Gingold is among the more than 160 historic and contemporary notables featured in Nelson's book, Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing).
So is Gingold's star pupil, internationally famous violinist Joshua Bell, a Bloomington native. Nelson shares an anecdote related to the first time he interviewed Joshua, who was disembarking from a commercial airline with his Stradivarius violin (estimated value: $2 million) in tow. (Since then, Joshua has upgraded to an even more expensive Stradivarius.)
The airline/violin anecdote is relevant because of the recent contretemps involving Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Zach De Pue and a commuter airline that initially refused to let him bring his historic violin aboard.
During the show, Garry shares insights about the historic Wholesale District in the south portion of downtown Indy, an area that includes Union Station, where dozens of retailers sold produce and other wares.
Garry also discusses Lockefield Gardens, which opened in 1938 as the first major public housing project in the city. Among the notable Hoosiers who grew up near Lockefield Gardens is a legendary athlete included in Nelson's books: Oscar Robertson, who led Attucks High School to back-to-back state championship titles before his outstanding career as a college and pro player.
And Nelson discusses his multiple interviews over the years with a Crawfordsville native who will be named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society next month: Crossword puzzle guru Will Shortz, puzzle-master of the New York Times and author of many crossword books.
Will, who became the first (and, so far, only) person to graduate from IU with a degree in enigmatology (the study of puzzles), grew up on a horse farm near Crawfordsville.
Moving from games to historic fun, Nelson and Garry also discuss the bygone Riverside Amusement Park that flourished for decades on the westside of Indy. Garry reviews what's on the site today of the former carnival rides, which included a Ferris wheel and dueling roller coasters.
Garry photographed the current site for theThen/Now book to accompany text by Nelson, who wrote about the amusement park by drawing on boyhood memories of growing up during the waning era of Riverside, which closed in 1970.
Garry, who concedes he's afraid of heights, has had to climb on girders and ride in helicopters for some of his photography projects. He photographed the 92 icons representing all of Indiana's counties that are depicted on the exterior of the Indiana State Museum in White River State Park. His photos of the county icons appear in the book The Art of the 92 County Walk published by the state museum.
The cover of Indianapolis Then and Now depicts the opulent English Theatre, Hotel and Opera House, which was built on Monument Circle beginning in 1880.
Nelson and Garry share details about the four-story English structure, which featured the largest stage in Indiana; it was the setting for a spellbinding production of Ben-Hur in the early 1900s. Amid an outcry from the public, the English was demolished in 1948. The site now is occupied by the headquarters building of Anthem/Wellpoint.
Roadtrip: Clinton, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson selects Clinton in Vermillion County, a little north of Terre Haute, for his Roadtrip pick.
Says Eric: "My grandparents lived there when I was a child, and I visited often. Clinton's rich coal mines nearby attracted many Italian immigrants in the first part of the 20th century. The town has been home to the Little Italy Festival since 1966. Clinton also has a coal mining museum, and Horney's hardware store, which had the best toy selection when I was a kid. And it's still there."
He continues: "Clinton's downtown is still rich with early 20th-century architecture, and its imported Italian fountain is a local landmark. It's home to one of the last thriving small-town newspapers, still in business, called The Daily Clintonian. Locals are very picky about Italian food, so it was cause for celebration when a well-known chef opened Gerrie's, which I haven't visited yet! The word on the street is that their food is amazing."
Sites featured in Indianapolis Then and Now, the visual history book on which our host Nelson Price collaborated with photographer Garry Chilluffo and photo historian Joan Hostetler, include one of the oldest parks in Indianapolis. Originally a harness racetrack, the land was purchased by the city of Indy during the 1870s, when the park was created.
The park became known for its conservatory, sunken gardens and amphitheater.
Question: What is the park?
The prize pack includes two passes to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Natural gas boom of 1880s and '90s
(June 7, 2014) - An entire region in east central Indiana became the setting in the 1880s and '90s for, as one of our guests puts it, "one of the great natural resource discoveries of American history." The Natural Gas Boom in Indiana also is regarded as one of the most dramatic eras in the state's history.
Alas, the boom - which significantly affected cities such as Muncie, Kokomo, Anderson, Marion, Elwood, Gas City and Fairmount - did not last, even though many civic leaders, businesses and residents assumed the plentiful natural gas would never run out. For most industries, businesses and homeowners, the era was over by 1910 or much earlier.
According to our guest Jim Glass, Indiana's "gas belt" covered 2,500 square miles, making it the largest natural gas field in the country in the 1890s.
A range of industries requiring large quantities of fuel were attracted to east central Indiana as a result. They included glass (Muncie became the country's No. 2 glass-producing city after Pittsburgh, Jim writes), brick, wire and nail, iron and strawboard, an early type of cardboard.
Without the gas boom, many historians are convinced Indiana would not have become a major industrial state. At the least, its transition from being an agricultural state would have been significantly delayed.
So why did the Natural Gas Boom end so quickly?
"No effort to conserve," Jim writes. "No one wanted to believe the gas would run out, despite plenty of scientific evidence."
The boom essentially began at a gas well near Eaton, a small town north of Muncie. According to The Gas Boom of East Central Indiana, it became, as a result of drilling in 1886, "the first well in Indiana to produce a profitable supply of gas."
As drilling quickly spread across east central Indiana, officials decided the best way to show off the output of a new gas well was to light it up. A resulting flame - known as a flambeau - become a common sight in the night sky. Flambeaux, burning night and day, often were regarded as community "billboards" for the abundance of natural gas.
According to our guest Jim Glass, more than 100 glass factories may have been in operation between 1887 and 1901 in east central Indiana.
Today, glass manufacturers in Jay County in far-eastern Indiana and in Kokomo are among the last factories remaining from the Natural Gas Boom era.
Both of our guests have connections to the region affected by the Natural Gas Boom.
Dave Broman was born in Anderson and grew up in Bluffton, a town on the fringes of the Trenton gas field. He worked in radio broadcasting in several cities, including Anderson and Kokomo. Since 2012, Dave has been executive director of the Howard County Historical Society; his goals include enhancing the explanations of the boom era - and the lessons that can be learned.
Other history facts:
Roadtrip: Morgantown, Ind.
"It may be best known to folks as that little town on SR135 you drive through on the way to Brown County. But it's nice to spend a few hours there to see what Morgantown has to offer. There are quite a number of restaurants for such a small village, but I recommend Kathy's Cafe, 159 W. Washington Street. Good, basic country cafe food, and really great pies, all homemade!"
Morgantown is compact enough that you can simply walk around and enjoy its many historic buildings - most of the downtown is listed in the National Register of Historic Places - as well as its small-town atmosphere and its interesting jumble of local shops.
There's a large antique store (the Antique Cooperative at 129 W. Washington) that is well worth a look, and the House of Clocks (75 W. Washington) maintains a sizable stock of clocks from around the world and repairs them as well.
"Perhaps Morgantown's most unusual offering," says Glory, "is Graham's Bee Works, 125 W. Washington, a regional supplier of all things beekeepers need, including bees! As I have just become a beekeeper myself, this place, which had always intrigued me, has taken on new importance!"
The Grant County town of Gas City was known as Harrisburg in the 1860s when the community was settled. With the discovery of natural gas in the area in 1887, Harrisburg, like many communities in east central Indiana, became a boom town. During the 1890s, the town changed its name to Gas City.
Other towns across Indiana also have changed their names for various reasons. Among them was the town of Bethlehem. The town changed its name because another Indiana community also had the biblical name.
The town that switched from Bethlehem to another name eventually became one of the fastest-growing cities in Indiana.
Question: What is the city?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to the Rathskeller Restaurant in downtown Indy, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Lyn St. James, racing pioneer for women
Even though time has roared by and Lyn St. James retired from Indy Car racing in 2001, the pioneer has never left the spotlight. In fact, Lyn, who competed in the 500 Mile Race seven times, will be racing again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 8. Along with such fellow veterans as Al Unser Jr. and Willy T. Ribbs, she will compete in the Indy Legends Pro-Am, a race on the Speedway's road track with muscle cars, including vintage Corvettes and Mustangs.
In fact, Lyn will do double duty that weekend because she also will compete in an open-wheel race at the Speedway. She will drive a specially designed Chevron built in 1977, a fully restored race car. Lyn will drive it in a new "Brickyard Invitational" weekend organized by the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association.
Before that, Lyn, 67, is Nelson's studio guest, as Hoosier History Live! explores the life and career of the race-driver-turned-motivational speaker who has been a role model for young women and girls.
"There's no sound in the world like the scream of an Indy car" is the opening line in her book Lyn St. James: An Incredible Journey (LSJ Press, 2005), which initially was published as Ride of Your Life (Hyperion, 2002).
In the book, she writes about her unforgettable first visit to the Speedway as a teenager. While her male friends could walk around Gasoline Alley, Lyn was forced to wait outside because women and girls weren't allowed in the restricted area then.
Although she became the first woman to be named Rookie of the Year - that happened in 1992, when she finished 11th, her best result - Lyn wasn't the first woman driver to compete in the Indy 500. That distinction, of course, belongs to Janet Guthrie, who competed in the 1977 race.
But Lyn's accomplishments in a sport that remained almost universally male-dominated resulted in visits to the White House to meet three presidents (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton) and appearances on national TV programs, including The David Letterman Show and The Today Show.
She often has been included in lists of the "Top 100 Women Athletes of the 20th Century."
Primarily based in Phoenix now, Lyn has lived in Florida, Ohio and, periodically, the Indianapolis area.
She has worked as a pit reporter for ABC and ESPN. Her civic endeavors include serving on the advisory board of the Indiana Fever pro basketball team and as a founding board member of the Indiana Motorsports Association.
All of this began inauspiciously; in fact, her racing career started with the wrong kind of splash. In reviewing Ride of Your Life for The Indianapolis Star in 2002, our host Nelson wrote:
"With a candor that qualifies as courageous, St. James discusses the highs as well as the lows of her career, including an embarrassing description of her first race in 1974 in West Palm Beach, Florida, when she spun her Ford Pinto into a lake near the track."
That rookie mishap unfolded at a race track surrounded by murky wetlands and ponds. Lyn's car careened into one of them after she lost control.
Despite that nerve-wracking episode - and the butterflies that surely afflict all Indy 500 drivers when they put their safety on the line at the Speedway - Lyn writes that the most frightening moment of her life had nothing to do with auto racing. It occurred when she was a seventh-grader at a private, all-girls academy in Ohio. She competed there in an organized sport for the first time as a member of a field hockey team.
"When the opposing team charged downfield toward me, I felt the most intense wave of panic I've ever experienced," she writes. "Nothing since that day has come close. I got over it. I stood my ground that afternoon, and eventually became captain of the field hockey team."
Years later, she oversaw a driver development program for young women after her racing career ended.
On the track, her accomplishments include qualifying sixth in 1994 for the Indy 500, out-qualifying Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell and other legendary drivers. In 1995, Lyn set a world record on a closed-course track for women when she reached a speed of 225.72 mph.
History fact: In 2000, two women qualified for the Indy 500 for the first time when Lyn was joined in the field by Sarah Fisher. (Hence, that was the first time Mari Hulman George ever used the plural for women in the command: "Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!")
Also at the Indy 500 in 2000, Lyn - at age 53 - was the oldest driver in the field, male or female. She retired as an Indy-car driver the next year.
Roadtrip: Ruth Lilly 'Twin Oaks' home tour
Guest Roadtripper Diana Mutz of the Indiana Historical Society recommends that you take a rare peek at the former estate of both L.S. Ayres II and philanthropist Ruth Lilly. It's the Historic Twin Oaks Home and Garden Tour on June 6, 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
The 1941 Colonial Revival home is hidden behind the trees at 555 Kessler Boulevard West Drive in Indianapolis. Starting with the elegant spiral staircase and distinctive murals in the entry, guests can explore 17 rooms of this extraordinary house, as well as take a stroll through the home's meticulously kept English Garden.
The home is accessible by shuttle service only, with parking and shuttle service available at Fox Hill Elementary School (802 Fox Hill Drive, Indianapolis) - just a one-minute ride to Twin Oaks. Tickets for adults are $18 in advance or $20 at the door, and cost for children ages 3 through 12 is $5.
For more information and/or tickets, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org.
During the era Lyn St. James raced in the Indianapolis 500, one of the winners created a controversy in Victory Lane by spurning a tradition that dated back to the 1930s. Rather than drink a celebratory bottle of milk immediately following his win in the Indy 500, he opted for orange juice.
The "milk snub" by the Indy 500 winner outraged many spectators as well as officials of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the American Dairy Association. Even several years later, when he returned to drive the pace car in the Indy 500, the driver received some loud boos because he had ignored the tradition involving milk that was nearly 60 years old.
Question: Who was the driver?
The prize pack is a gift certificate to Arni's Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.
Courthouse squares across Indiana
(May 24, 2014) - They are the centerpieces - many folks would say "gems" - of most towns that are county seats across the Hoosier state.
One courthouse square, located in the heart of Amish country, has parking for buggies as well as cars. In another county, a historic courthouse was restored after local women - many of them more than 75 years old - undressed and posed for a calendar as a fund-raiser.
In yet another county seat, a downtown area has three nearby structures built as courthouses.
To explore our vast range of courthouse squares, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
During our show, we focus not just on counties with historic courthouses. Nelson and his guests also explore cities that demolished their county courthouses. They include Indianapolis, where the ornate Marion County Courthouse was torn down during the early 1960s; courtrooms are housed in the City-County Building, a 28-story office complex. In Delaware County, the historic courthouse in Muncie also was demolished during the 1960s.
And we don't just focus on the courthouses, or their replacements during our show. Chris, Jim and Nelson also explore the structures around them as we focus on the "squares" or their equivalents. (In the Hoosier capital, a circle - Monument Circle- typically is regarded as the town square.)
Counties with courthouse squares on the itinerary for our show include:
To photograph the 92 courthouse squares or their equivalents for the Indiana's Courthouse Squaresproject, our guest Chris Flook avoided interstates as he drove from county to county.
A native Hoosier, Chris has worked on several documentaries and projects focused on Indiana history. They include a new documentary about the Lenape (the Native American tribe that white settlers called Delaware Indians) that had its premiere in Muncie last month.
In fact, Chris appears on our show following a series of showings of the documentary in Oklahoma, the home state for many descendants of the Lenape who once lived in Indiana. Chris also serves on the boards of the Delaware County Historical Society and the Indiana Barn Foundation.
In addition to restoring the Orange County Courthouse, our guest Jim Kienle has been involved in the restoration of historic movie theaters across Indiana. They include the initial renovation of the Circle Theatre in Indy during the early 1980s and, more recently, the award-winning renovation of the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart.
Roadtrip: Tel-Hy Nature Preserve in Huntington
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who also volunteers at a number of conservation organizations, including ACRES, DNR and Limberlost, suggests we take a wander through nature at the beautiful Tel-Hy Nature Preserve in Huntington.
In Hebrew, Tel means "high" and Hy means "life," which describes the high bluffs with great views of the Wabash River in the preserve. Tel-Hy Nature Preserve is just under 40 acres in Huntington County and was donated to ACRES Land Trust by Hy and Lorry Goldenberg in 1994.
Tel-Hy has the distinction of being featured in the book Weird Indiana due in to part to its collection of outdoor privies located on the preserve just off the parking lot. According to legend, Hy Goldenberg once ordered a single outhouse but was shipped two by mistake. Apparently he believed two of anything was a collection, so he started collecting more unusual outhouses.
The preserve has a variety of wildflowers, including Virginia bluebells, wood phlox, hepatica, snow trillium, goldenrods and asters. Sycamores, black walnuts and beech are just some of the soaring trees on the property. And a number of birds call this property home at least part of the year; they include scarlet tanager, wood ducks and wood thrush.
During the "Super Tornado" outbreak of April 1974, a courthouse in an Indiana county took a direct hit from a powerful twister. The tornado demolished so much of the historic courthouse, which had been built in 1894, that county leaders decided they had no choice but to remove the remains and build a new courthouse from the ground up. The impact of the tornado on the county courthouse was discussed on Hoosier History Live! during a show last month on the 40th anniversary of the April 1974 tornado outbreak.
Question: What Indiana county OR town (county seat) lost its historic courthouse to a tornado in 1974? Either the name of the county or the town may be supplied to win the prize.
Hint: The county courthouse was located in the northern half of Indiana.
The prize is a two passes for Indianapolis 500 Track Tours and a gift certificate to Latitude in Castleton, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Host Nelson Price receives Fadely Award
(April 2014) - Our ever-effervescent host Nelson Price was honored with the presentation of the Fadely History Award on March 30 at annual meeting of the Marion County Historical Society at the Athenaeum in downtown Indy. The award was presented by Jim Fadely, Director of College Counseling at University High School, in honor of his pioneer ancestors.
The award is presented by the Marion County Historical Society "in recognition of outstanding effort to advance the knowledge of history in Indianapolis and Marion County."
"With his career of writing features at the Indianapolis newspapers, his books about famous Hoosiers and his hosting of the current Hoosier History Live radio program, Nelson Price is the perfect recipient of the Fadely History Award for advancing the history of Indianapolis and Marion County," said Jim Fadely.
Thanks also to the Indianapolis Star for publishing Nelson's column on April 8, "Letterman's ties to Indy remain strong."
Slave trial in 1820s Indiana and Fairmount town history: Two classic shows
(May 17, 2014 - encore presentations) - Instead of a one-hour program, Hoosier History Live this week offers two back-to-back half-hour shows from our archives of nearly 300 programs. We have selected two of the most popular programs in our more than six years of covering all aspects of our Hoosier heritage.
Slave trials in 1820s
During the first classic show (original air date: Nov. 13, 2010), we explore how a young African-American woman in Vincennes made history in 1821. A lawyer for Mary Bateman Clark filed a lawsuit seeking her release from an "indentured servitude" contract with one of the most prominent men in the new state of Indiana. The contract required Mary to cook, clean and sew for Gen. Washington Johnston and his family for 20 years. He only pay was housing, food and clothing.
The case, which made its way to the Indiana Supreme Court, involved determining whether such "indentured servitude" contracts violated the state's constitution as a form of slavery. The Supreme Court ruled in Mary's favor and ordered her employer to release her.
To share insights about the social history of the era and the landmark case, Nelson is joined in studio by one of Mary's descendants, Indianapolis resident Eunice Trotter. Eunice, a veteran journalist, and her sister Ethel McCane are using their research about their ancestor to do "living history performances" for schools and civic groups across the state. They can be contacted through their website at marybatemanclark.org.
Eunice and Ethel crusaded for a historic marker in honor of Mary Bateman Clark; it was dedicated at the Knox County Courthouse in 2009. The sisters are Mary Bateman Clark's great-great-great granddaughters.
According to their research, many white residents of Vincennes and other early Indiana communities worried about the presence of free African-Americans, fearing they would incite indentured blacks.
Fairmount town history
But were you aware the creator of the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world also grew up on a Fairmount farm? It was the boyhood home of Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, the cantankerous cat.
To explore the heritage of a town with several distinctions during our second classic show (original air date: Aug. 28, 2010), Nelson is joined in studio by Fairmount resident Cathy Duling Shouse, the author of a visual history book about her hometown, Fairmount, part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series. Cathy's ancestors settled in the Fairmount area before 1850.
In her book, which she put together with the Fairmount Historical Museum, more than half of the 223 rare vintage photos came from private collections of local residents.
The images include a 1904 photo of the construction of the Winslow family farmhouse, where young James Dean was raised during the 1930s and '40s by his aunt and uncle.
There are also photos of Lake Galatia near Fairmount, which was formed by the last glacier. Lake Galatia is where, as Cathy puts it, "the most complete set of mammoth bones ever found was discovered." That was in 1904. The discovery of the huge skeleton of the mammoth (which apparently lived 11,000 years ago) sparked a lawsuit about their ownership.
Initially part of the Miami Indian territory, Fairmount was settled early on by Quakers. Fun fact: The mascot of old Fairmount High School - where James Dean, a member of the Class of 1949, was a standout basketball player - was "the Quakers."
Offbeat landmarks across Indiana
(May 10, 2014) - "I like weird stuff," says Evan Finch of Indianapolis. "I like history. And I like to drive around. On some weekends, I get to combine all three by driving around, finding unusual things and learning their histories."
So Evan, an advertising copywriter who describes himself as a "dilettante" historic preservationist, has visited and will share insights about such offbeat or funky Hoosier landmarks as the Big Peach near the Knox County town of Bruceville and the Colossal Mushroom near Middlebury in Elkhart County. Evan describes the former as "a gigantic, eye-luring, concrete-and-chicken-wire" peach built in the 1950s to attract attention to a farm stand.
Also on the menu for our show: An exploration of the Giant Egg near Mentone, a town in far-northern Indiana that promotes itself as the "egg basket" of the Midwest. According to Evan, the town built a 10-foot-tall, 3,000-pound egg in 1946 to advertise its annual egg festival.
With Evan, a copywriter for Young & Laramore, we don't limit ourselves to food-shaped landmarks. He shares insights about the sculpture of a giant serpent created by a stone cutter who lived on a farm near Needmore. The cutter, August Mack, was a German immigrant whose dream about a snake inspired him to create the mechanical serpent, which, as Evan puts it, "could move, hiss, rattle and open its mouth."
Promoted on a billboard, the giant snake became a roadside attraction during the 1930s and '40s, with its creator charging a modest admission to see it. Alas, the serpent landmark - unlike most of the others we will explore - apparently no longer exists. Evan explains why during the show.
Other landmarks Evan discusses include:
Never heard of Joe Palooka? The comic strip that featured the character - a muscle-bound, lantern-jawed boxer described as dumb but well-intentioned - ended in 1984.
The comic was in its heyday in 1948, though. That's when, according to some accounts, more than 4,000 people attended the dedication of the limestone Joe Palooka. It's 10 feet tall, weighs 10,000 pounds and can be found on Main Street in Oolitic near the town's post office.
"I'm interested in anything unique, that makes one place different from any other place," our guest Evan Finch explained during a recent presentation about his "quirky landmarks" passion at Indiana Landmarks, the historic preservation organization. "Finding those differences makes life seem more mysterious and more fun."
Surely the Colossal Mushroom qualifies as unique. According to Evan, the mushroom is one of several decorative structures constructed by the owner of a Middlebury nursery to promote his business at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. The eye-catching mushroom and other structures constructed by Krider Nurseries were displayed in gardens at the World's Fair.
"After the fair was over in 1934, Krider didn't want to lose all of their investment ... so they bought a lot of it back and reconstructed the garden in Middlebury," Evan reports.
Although Krider went out of business more than 20 years ago, the mushroom remains as a towering figure in a community park.
Equally colorful is the history of another roadside oddity that Evan will discuss. For several decades in Terre Haute, teenagers and other residents visited a family mausoleum to see "Stiffy Green," a bulldog that had been, as Evan puts it, "taxidermied."
Creeping around the mausoleum at Highland Lawn Cemetery at night became a Terre Haute rite of passage, Evan says. Terrified teenagers would shine flashlights at the bulldog to glance at its glowing eyes. Vandalism of Stiffy Green during the 1980s, though, resulted in moving the once-beloved pet from the cemetery to the basement of the Vigo County Historical Museum. In the basement, the bulldog sits in a replica of the family crypt.
During his Landmarks presentation, Evan likened the visits to Stiffy Green's mausoleum to a rite of passage for generations of teenagers in the Indianapolis area: Nocturnal visits to the bygone House of Blue Lights owned by eccentric millionaire Skiles Test.
During back-to-back Halloween seasons - in October of 2009 and 2010 - we broadcast Hoosier History Live shows about various aspects of the House of Blue Lights urban legend. The 2010 show featured a rare interview with Test's daughter, Louellen Test Hesse.
Roadtrip: Home plate at Butler University
Guest Roadtripper Jason Lantzer, author, past Hoosier History Live! guest, and director of Butler's Honors Program, will talk about this mysterious home-plate marker on Butler's campus in front of Jordan Hall. It's baseball season, so learn more about this historic athletic milestone on the show this Saturday!
A tree near the small town in southwestern Indiana of Milltown has become a roadside attraction because of what people fling onto its branches. During the early 1960s, a group of Boy Scouts may have started the tradition of tossing the items onto the tree. For more than 50 years since then, people have thrown this object onto the tree. As a result, the tree has been featured in books, newspaper articles and TV and radio reports.
Question: What have hundreds of people tossed onto the tree?
The prize is a gift certificate to Arni's Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a pair of passes to Glow Golf, the miniature golf course at the Circle Centre Mall, courtesy of Glow Golf.
Why do buildings look that way?
May 3, 2014 - With an architectural historian as our guest, Hoosier History Live! dissects the designs of several of the best-known buildings, monuments and plazas across the state.
Fasten your seat belts for an architectural exploration that ranges from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis - as well as other buildings on or near Monument Circle - to St. Benedict Catholic Church in Terre Haute and the historic Knightstown Academy in Henry County.
Indianapolis-based architectural historian William Selm joins Nelson in studio to share insights about the design of those landmarks, as well as others, including the Indiana World War Memorial and its plaza in Indy, plus Circle Centre Mall, which opened in 1995 in downtown Indy and incorporated the facades of several historic structures in its exterior. ("Façade-ectomy" is the quirky term that some preservationists have used to describe the move of facades of historic storefronts and other buildings to the exterior of the modern mall.)
As part of exploring the design of landmark buildings, which include the City Market, Columbia Club and Union Station in Indy, we also look at architectural symbols such as the use of shields in the designs.
Shields frequently were used by the prominent Indianapolis-based architectural firm of Vonnegut & Bohn, which was co-founded in the late 1880s by Bernard Vonnegut (1855-1908), the grandfather of internationally known novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Among Bernard Vonnegut's enduring creations is the majestic Athenaeum, which opened as a German cultural center in 1894 in downtown Indy.
Our guest William Selm, a fifth-generation German-American, shares insights about the design of the Athenaeum, which was built in the Renaissance Revival style and initially was called Das Deutsch Haus. (Its name was changed during the World War I era because of anti-German sentiments.) In the early 1990s, William Selm was a key figure in the crusade to save the Athenaeum, which by then had declined dramatically.
A native of Batesville, William is an instructor at IUPUI and former historian for the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. For the historic district surrounding Monument Circle, he prepared the nomination that resulted in its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Knightstown Academy also is listed on the national register.
Built as an educational facility by Quakersin the 1870s and designed in the Second Empire style, the distinctive-looking academy has twin towers. It became a public high school in Knightstown, serving in that capacity for several generations.
During the 1920s, an attached gymnasium was built at the Knightstown Academy. Remodeled by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, the gym eventually staked its own claim on Hoosier history. It served as the home basketball court for fictional Hickory High School in the classic movie Hoosiers (1986). Now known as the "Hoosier Gym," it is the setting for weddings and an array of civic events.
Our architectural journey also includes a look at two Catholic churches with ties to the deep German heritage in Indiana.
In Terre Haute, near the end of the Civil War, German immigrants established a parish and built a church. It was replaced by the current St. Benedict Catholic Church in the 1890s.
In Indianapolis, German-speaking residents founded St. Mary Catholic Church near the Lockerbie neighborhood. William Selm shares insights about the architecture of St. Mary's, which today is attended by an array of downtown residents and an ever-growing number of Hispanic families.
Also in the Hoosier capital, construction of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument began in the 1880s after a crusade by Col. Eli Lilly, Gen. Lew Wallace (the author of Ben Hur) and other prominent residents who wanted to honor Hoosiers lost in the Civil War. (Since then, the monument has been regarded by many as honoring Hoosiers lost in all wars.)A German architect, Bruno Schmitz (1858-1916), won an international competition to design the monument, which was completed in 1901 and dedicated in 1902. Built of Indiana limestone, it has become the eternal symbol of the Hoosier capital. The basement of the monument houses the Col. Eli Lilly Civil War Museum.
Roadtrip: Lyles Station Historic School and Museum
Guest Roadtripper Kisha Tandy of the Indiana State Museum suggests a Roadtrip to Lyles Station in southwestern Indiana, which is one of the few remaining African American settlements in Indiana. The settlement was founded by free African American Joshua Lyles in 1849, and it once had nearly 800 residents.
The community's schoolhouse was also the target of a major restoration and renovation effort around the turn of the 21st century and currently serves as a museum to the history of the community.
Alonzo Fields, the first African-American chief butler of the White House, serving for 21 years under Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower, was also from Lyles Station and the subject of the play Looking Over the President's Shoulder by Indiana Repertory Theatre's playwright in residence, James Still.
According to many historians, the first house made of brick in what became the state of Indiana was built in the frontier town of Vincennes. Constructed in 1803 and '04, the Federal-style home was the residence of an early Indiana leader who became nationally famous.
In Vincennes, the state's oldest city, he modeled his brick home after the plantation in Virginia where he had grown up. He gave his Indiana home a distinctive name; among its outstanding features is a free-standing stairway.
The brick house has been restored and is toured by hundreds of visitors annually.
Question: What is the name of the brick house in Vincennes - and who was its famous owner? Both answers must be supplied to win the prize.
Jazz recording heritage in Richmond
(April 26, 2014 - encore presentation) - Memphis, New York City and Nashville, Tenn., have long been hailed for the significant roles their recording studios played in the boom of American popular music. Why do some say Richmond in far-eastern Indiana should be mentioned in the same breath?
Consider that during the 1920s the parade of future musical legends who traveled to the town - specifically, to the Starr Piano Company and its Gennett Records division - included Louis Armstrong, Indiana native Hoagy Carmichael, cowboy singer Gene Autry and Jelly Roll Morton, who recorded nine piano solos at the Richmond studio in 1924.
Hoosier History Live! explores Richmond's rich but frequently overlooked heritage in recording jazz, blues and country music in this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives. Its original air date was April 13, 2013.
Nelson's guests include Bob Jacobsen and David Fulton, president and treasurer, respectively, of the Starr-Gennett Foundation, a non-profit that is helping Richmond reclaim its recording heritage, which ended with the Great Depression.
"Gennett was among the first record companies to cater to both the segregated white and black record markets," according to Rick Kennedy, author of Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, whose book, first published by IU Press in 1994, has been released in an expanded, revised edition.
That's also near where the riverside piano factory and recording studio made so much musical history.
Performers who recorded on the Gennett label - either at its Richmond studio or one in Manhattan - included Duke Ellington, Joe "King" Oliver and legendary cornet and piano player Bix Beiderbecke, who befriended and influenced a young Hoagy Carmichael. The musical director and lead soloist of the Wolverine Orchestra (usually known as the Wolverines by jazz enthusiasts), Beiderbecke died at age 28 in 1931.
The musical heritage in Richmond had accelerated in the 1890s when piano retailer Henry Gennett bought an interest in a pre-existing piano company and renamed it Starr.
The saga that unfolded, according to Rick's book, included a legal fight over patent infringement between Gennett and mighty Victor Records, which in 1917 had produced the world's first jazz records. Gennett was joined by other small labels; they prevailed in 1922, breaking Victor's stranglehold.
Later in 1922, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings made their recording debut at the Richmond studio.
"Ragtime, jazz, blues, gospel, country and other 'new' sounds swelled the mainstream of popular music with the help of instruments and recordings produced by Starr and Gennett for international distribution," according to the Starr-Gennett Foundation.
Tornado history and storm chasing
(April 19, 2014) - With tornado season under way - and this month's 40th anniversary of one of the worst outbreaks - Hoosier History Live! tackles the heritage of twisters in Indiana. We also explore various aspects of storm chasing, including questions about why weather researchers put themselves in harm's way.
A "Super Outbreak" of tornadoes in April 1974 across the Midwest resulted in 49 deaths and 768 injuries in Indiana. Particularly hard-hit by the series of twisters were the cities of Monticello, Rochester, Madison and Hanover. To explore the impact of those tragic episodes and other tornado outbreaks - as well as to share insights about storm-chasing techniques - two guests join Nelson in studio:
"Although Indiana is outside what most people think of as 'tornado alley,' the state does see an average of 22 tornadoes per year, and experiences three strong or violent tornadoes every two years," our guest Dave Call says.
"Generally speaking, tornado counts have increased in recent years, largely due to better detection. However, the number of tornado deaths has been trending downward, probably due to better warnings and awareness."
According to Dave, the "Super Outbreak" of April 1974 included the only officially recorded F5 tornado in Indiana. (The F scale, used to rate tornadoes on the basis of intensity, assesses them from F0 to F5; the latter have the fastest wind speeds and cause the most damage.)
In Monticello during the "Super Outbreak" 40 years ago, the historic White County Courthouse took a direct hit. Several churches, schools, businesses and cemeteries were destroyed or significantly damaged.
In far-southeastern Indiana, several farms were leveled by F5 tornado damage near Depauw, an unincorporated community in Harrison County. On the Hanover College campus, 32 of 33 buildings were damaged, with some completely destroyed.
Southeastern Indiana also was hit the hardest by a tornado outbreak in March 2012. An F4 tornado that was on the ground for more than 50 miles caused extensive damage to Henryville, destroying the town's elementary school and junior/senior high school.
Eleven deaths in Indiana are blamed on the March 2012 tornado outbreak. In addition to Henryville, the small communities of Marysville and New Pekin suffered considerable damage.
With such dire consequences possible, why do weather researchers chase severe storms? In a guest column for The Indianapolis Star in June 2013, our guest Dave Call explained:
"Even with the dangers, there are good reasons to chase and get as close as we safely can to these meteorological monsters. Unfortunately, chasing is still one of the best methods for weather researchers to collect data about tornadoes. ... There is simply no good way to measure the near-storm environment without going to the storms themselves and deploying equipment."
Dave emphasized that tornado chasers should, "at minimum" take classes in storm spotting, research safety techniques, travel with experienced partners and "have escape routes mapped out in case a storm suddenly changes direction."
This show isn't our first foray into Indiana's tornado history.
In March 2012, we explored the horrific Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965, the deadliest in Indiana history. Nelson's guest was Dennis Keyser, who was a 10 year-old boy in Bremen on April 11, 1965, a date that set him on his career path.
After witnessing the devastation of the tornado outbreak, which killed a total of 137 Hoosiers and injured about 1,200 others, Dennis eventually studied atmospheric sciences at Purdue. For his master's in meteorology, he focused on severe-weather dynamics.
Today, he lives in Silver Springs, Md., and works in a highly specialized field of troubleshooting related to weather data.
Listen to the March 24, 2012 show, "Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965":
"Twisters" is a footnote in Hoosier sports history. It was the name of a short-lived, Indianapolis-based sports team that almost was called the Tornadoes. An expansion team in a professional league, the Indiana Twisters - sometimes known as the Indianapolis Twisters - competed for about two years in the mid-1990s. The team played at Market Square Arena, which was demolished in 2001.
Question: What was the sport?
Roadtrip: Worthington, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us, "Ignore the new interstate stampeding through the southern Indiana countryside. Take a drive about 70 miles southwestward from Indianapolis on State Road 67, past Spencer to the little town of Worthington, founded in 1849."
She adds: "It's small, to be sure, but chock-full of history and simple pleasures."
Worthington is full of antique shops, many of them located in antique buildings, to fill your afternoon. Because the highway comes into Worthington at a sharp angle, the town has a public triangle rather than a square. In the late 19th century, a well was dug in the center of the triangle, later replaced with a flowing fountain pumped from an artesian well. People once came from miles around to fill jugs with this especially healthy (so they thought) water. Today, a fountain remains in the triangle and adds to the town's charm."
A few blocks from downtown is the city park, and in it is displayed Worthington's pride, a branch (and it is huge) of what was believed to be the largest sycamore tree in the state. It was destroyed in a storm in the 1920s, but a limb was saved and has been displayed for decades.
Hungry? Check out the Route 67 Diner right downtown (1 South Commercial), open seven days a week. Real food and ice cream goodies, too.
If the outdoors is more your thing, Worthington is only about 15 miles northeast of Goose Pond, a recently established fish and wildlife area. It is a birder's paradise, a good place to see a myriad of waterfowl and raptors.
If you're hungry before you head home, you can always stop at the Front Porch Steak House on Highway 67.
Baseball great Carl Erskine of Anderson
(April 12, 2014) - With the season opening of Major League Baseball this week, Hoosier History Live! explores the career, as well as the life away from the dugout, of one of the most beloved Hoosiers who ever pitched.
Nelson's special guest is Anderson native Carl Erskine, a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (he was chosen to pitch the opening game in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles) during the era that the team's roster included his longtime close friend Jackie Robinson, who broke the racial barrier in the major leagues. Carl Erskine pitched for the Dodgers in five World Series.
After retiring from baseball, Carl, now 87, returned to Anderson and became one of the top business and civic leaders in his hometown.
Carl and his wife, Betty, have been particularly dedicated to Special Olympics, in which their son Jimmy, who has Down syndrome and is now in his 50s, continues to compete. Carl wrote his most recent book, The Parallel (2012), as a way to raise funds for Special Olympics Indiana. The book draws parallels between the evolving social acceptances of minorities - thanks to trailblazers like Jackie Robinson - and societal acceptance of people with disabilities. Carl's other books include What I Learned from Jackie Robinson (McGraw-Hill, 2005).
Carl met Jackie Robinson in 1948 when the Hoosier was playing in the minor leagues and the civil rights pioneer gave him encouragement in the dugout. Carl went on to win 122 games as a pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He also pitched three two no-hitters during his 12-year career with the team. In 1953, he set a record in the World Series for striking out 14 players. (They were New York Yankees.)
Following his return to Anderson, where he started out in sandlot, high school and amateur baseball, Carl was a bank president for several years. He also coached the baseball team at Anderson University and, for more than 40 years, has volunteered for Special Olympics.
Carl, who was born in Anderson in 1926, grew up in a racially integrated neighborhood. His childhood pals included "Jumping" Johnny Wilson, an African-American who later was named "Mr. Basketball" as the state's best high school player in 1946. Eventually, Wilson played pro basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.
In What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, Carl writes that his early experiences with diverse families meant that he was open to a quick, easy friendship with Jackie Robinson, whose life story was depicted in the movie 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (2013).
In his book, Carl describes a series of disturbing incidents in 1949 in Atlanta, where the KKK picketed the Dodgers and Robinson received death threats.
"We couldn't believe anybody would want to kill somebody else for playing ball because of his race," Carl writes. According to Carl, the classy way in which Robinson handled taunts from spectators, fellow players and the media taught him "to be 'better,' not bitter, whenever adversity struck."
In addition to Carl, Robinson's supporters on the Dodgers included another Hoosier: Gil Hodges(1924-1972), a native of Princeton, Ind., who was a star first baseman. Later in his career, Hodges became manager of the New York Mets and, in 1969, led the team to a World Series championship.
By then, Carl had retired as a player and had moved back to his hometown with his wife, Betty, and started a business. He also was president and a director of Star Bank.
The Erskines' son, Jimmy, had been born in 1960 with Down syndrome. Carl and Betty were urged to institutionalize him, but they declined and raised him at home. This led to their involvement with Special Olympics, where Jimmy has been a gold medalist.
In the early 1940s, before Carl Erskine played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, another Indiana-born baseball star was on the team's roster. A native of New Albany, he also played for teams in Boston and Pittsburgh.
Primarily, though, the Hoosier was associated with the Chicago Cubs, where he was considered one of the greatest hit-and-run hitters of the 1930s and played against icons like Babe Ruth.
The mystery player, a second baseman, had been born in New Albany in 1909. At the end of his career, he was a team manager and scout. By the time he died in 1992, he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Hint: His granddaughter, Cheri, grew up to marry former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Question: Who is he?
Roadtrip: T.C. Steele and Brown County wildflowers
During a three-day period, guests can enjoy 24 different hikes and programs that focus on the natural history and environmental concerns of Brown County, especially as they relate to wildflower and bird populations. Included are wildflower and bird walks, wetland hikes, a boat trip on Lake Monroe, nature photography and more.
Hikes and programs will be on established trails throughout the T.C. Steele property and at other nearby natural areas, including DNR properties, Hoosier National Forest, Indiana University, Sycamore Land Trust and Nature Conservancy lands.
By the way, our History Mystery prize this week includes two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair that same weekend in Brown County! Spring is especially welcome this year after such a seemingly endless winter!
Tiffany windows across Indiana
Another, The Ascension with Passion Flower and Vine, is in the chancel of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.
And other stained glass windows created in the late 1800s or early 1900s by the iconic, New York-based Tiffany Studios are in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James in South Bend; the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond and on various mausoleums across Indiana.
As Hoosier History Live! explores those stunning Tiffany windows and others across Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
From the late 1870s through the early 1930s, Louis Comfort Tiffany and his decorative glass company (which had various names, but primarily was known as Tiffany Studios) produced thousands of windows for churches, businesses, private homes and mausoleums across the country.
Wherever their location, Tiffany windows almost always are eye-catching, to say the least. Typically, the stained glass is multicolored and, during sunlight, has an iridescent effect; vibrant mottled glass is a hallmark of many of the windows.
Declaring his life's goal was the "pursuit of beauty," Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) oversaw many designers at his decorative glass business. His father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, had founded the luxury jewelry retailer known as Tiffany & Co.
Leslie, our guest from the IMA, has traveled to South Bend and Richmond to gather details about the Tiffany windows in those Hoosier cities. In addition to the library in Richmond, buildings in the far-eastern Indiana city with Tiffany windows include St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Reid Memorial Church, a Presbyterian congregation that commissioned several stained-glass windows.
In Indianapolis, the same Tiffany artist, Frederick Wilson, designed the windows for both First and Second Presbyterian churches. Wilson, who often signed his windows, was one of the best-known designers at Tiffany, where many others worked in near-obscurity, overshadowed by the legendary "Tiffany" name.
After various congregational changes and moves involving First Presbyterian Church, the Angel of the Resurrection window was donated in the early 1970s to the IMA by First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church, a successor to the congregation. The window depicts Michael, the heroic angel, wearing chain mail and resembling a medieval knight as he beckons the dead to rise.
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site has provided the IMA with a presentation sketch for the window that was given to Mrs. Harrison; the sketch, along with a Tiffany Studios catalogue, will be displayed with the window as part of the exhibit.
At Second Presbyterian, the Tiffany window was a gift to the church by the widow of a congregant, Charles F. Sayles, who died in 1902. The Ascension with Passion Flower and Vine initially was installed in 1905, according to a timeline supplied by our guest Fred Kortepeter.
Fred also has a list of Tiffany windows that had been installed - or were being commissioned - across Indiana circa 1910. The current whereabouts of some of the Tiffany windows has been a bit of a mystery. Both of our guests have undertaken research to explain about what may happened to some of the windows.
Some history facts:
"Learn more" videos:
Major glass sculptures created by Dale Chihuly, the famous contemporary artist, have been commissioned across Indiana. And there have been exhibits of Chihuly's sculptures of blown glass at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and many other cultural sites in the Hoosier state. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis features "Fireworks of Glass," a 43-foot tower that's considered to be the largest permanent sculpture of blown glass created by Chihuly, who is based in the state of Washington.
Elsewhere in Indianapolis, the Indiana University School of Medicine commissioned an enormous sculpture by Chihuly that represents an aspect of human biology. The glass sculpture, which weighs 3,000 pounds, was dedicated in 2003 in the medical school complex on the IUPUI campus.
Question: What aspect of biology does the massive sculpture symbolize?
Roadtrip: Chief Richardville House in Fort Wayne
Guest Roadtripper Tom Castaldi of Fort Wayne suggests a visit to the only known standing Treaty House in America, the Chief Richardville House in Fort Wayne. On the city's southwest side at 5705 Bluffton Road, the house is in the Greek Revival style and was built in 1827 for Miami Indian Civil Chief Jean-Baptiste de Richardville.
A myth prevails that an unusually formed silver maple tree at the front entrance to the home has a special meaning in the Miami culture. Tom says that it cannot be determined whether the twisting of the limbs was caused by an act of nature or by human manipulation.
Within the lawn area of the house are two mature lilac trees that may be date to the 19th century. The house is open for touring each first Saturday between May and November. Admission is $7, or $5 for seniors or $3 for students.
Governors of Indiana
(March 29, 2014 - encore presentation) - "Historically, the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the strength of the state legislature and in contrast to the office of governor in some other states. Over time ... the office has been transformed into one with considerably more power."
So begins a book co-edited by two distinguished Hoosiers who are Nelson's studio guests for a show exploring the colorful array of Indiana's chief executives since statehood in 1816 - as well as various patterns among the political leaders who have held the top office.
During this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives (its original air date was April 6, 2013), our guests are Linda Gugin, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair, a journalism professor at ISU. They co-edited The Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), an anthology to which dozens of writers contributed profiles of the Hoosier state’s leaders.
Our first governor, Jonathan Jennings, was a longtime foe of slavery who resigned in 1822 after being elected to Congress; he struggled with alcoholism in his later years. During our show, Nelson and his guests will explore how Jennings and other early Indiana governors - including William Hendricks of Madison (our third governor) and Paris Dunning of Bloomington (our ninth) - dealt with slavery-related issues.
In their book, Jim and Linda identify the two "most powerful governors" as Civil War-era leader Oliver Perry Morton, a Republican from Centerville, and Franklin native Paul V. McNutt, a Democrat who was the state's chief executive during the Great Depression. Morton had lost his first race for governor, in 1856, during a bitter election in which, according to our guests' book, Democrats resorted to "overt appeals to racism."
The election demonstrated "the polarized nature of the state at the time," with the Democratic candidate, New Albany lawyer and orator Ashbel Willard, prevailing in almost all of the southern counties and Morton in the north.
In 1860, Willard became the first of four Indiana governors to die in office. The most recent was Corydon newspaper publisher and state legislator Frank O'Bannon in 2003.
During the show, Nelson and his guests explore how various civil rights and social justice issues have been handled by governors. A former first lady, Zerelda Wallace, became a leading suffragist during the 1870s and '80s, lobbying the legislature for women's rights. She was the second wife of David Wallace, who had served as governor in the 1830s. Fun fact: His son from his first marriage is Lew Wallace, who went on to write the international bestseller Ben-Hur.
Native plants and early Indiana botanical explorations
(March 22, 2014) - With, at long last, the arrival of spring - at least in terms of the calendar, if not the current weather - Hoosier History Live! focuses on our state's botanical heritage. And a special co-host guides us during our look at native plants and early botanical explorations.
Did you know, for example, that 43 varieties of orchids are native to Indiana - more than in Hawaii?
Author and gardening expert Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, who writes the popular "Hoosier Gardener" column for The Indianapolis Star, joins Nelson in studio for the show. Their guest is a fellow author, botanist and plant ecologist Michael Homoya of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. His books include Orchids of Indiana (Indiana University Press), which describes all 43 native Indiana orchids.
Jo Ellen, the co-author of The Indiana Gardener's Guide and the author of The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens (both published by Cool Springs Press), is the secretary of Garden Writers Association. She has been writing and speaking about natural gardening for more than 20 years.
So Jo Ellen and Michael will be ideal for this show, during which we dig deep into botanical explorations across Indiana. The first known one occurred in 1795 by French explorer Andre Michaux. Some of Michaux's collections from the Indiana wilderness still exist in the national herbarium in Paris, according to Michael, who has personally seen them.
Our first state forester, Charlie Deam (1865-1953), grew up on a family farm in Wells County and went on to chronicle native plants across the state, including specific locations in counties and townships. Known as the "father of Indiana botany," he collected more than 73,000 plant specimens from across Indiana, according to Michael Homoya. (His collection is now housed at the herbarium at Indiana University.)
Some other insights about our state's natural history, courtesy of Jo Ellen and Michael:
In addition to his book about orchids, our guest Michael Homoya has been the author or co-author of other books about Indiana wildflowers. They include Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana's Forests (IU Press).
And Jo Ellen, in addition to being an author and columnist, is a garden coach and landscape consultant. A frequent guest about gardening topics on TV and radio stations across Indiana, she is a member of Great Garden Speakers.
Question: What is the official state tree of Indiana?
Sycamore trees shed their bark in winter, providing beautiful white branches to look at against the sky. However, the sycamore is not the state tree of Indiana.
The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.
Roadtrip: Circus Day at Indiana History Center
Guest Roadtripper Amy Lamb will suggest you run away to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis for the Indiana Historical Society's popular (and free) Circus Day celebration on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Many Hoosiers may not be aware that Indiana's connection to the circus industry dates back to the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, a number of the nation's premier shows set up winter quarters in Indiana. Today, Peru, Ind., is home to the world's largest amateur circus and the International Circus Hall of Fame.
The day will include performances from the Hampel Family Circus, the Amazing World of Animals, clowns, magicians and jugglers, as well as free admission to the Indiana Experience. Guests can purchase tickets to enjoy face painting, balloon sculptures, crafts and carnival games with prizes. For more information, visit www.indianahistory.org.
Wicked winter history with Paul Poteet
(March 15, 2014) - When you endure one of the most brutal winters in Hoosier history, whom do you call to put it in context?
None other than the multimedia meteorologist often dubbed "Indiana's Weatherman." Indianapolis-based forecaster, weather historian and veteran broadcast personality Paul Poteet joins Nelson in studio to share details about the wicked winter of 2013-14 and how it stacks up to previous eras when temps also hit rock bottoms and snowfalls seemed endless, including the notorious Blizzard of 1978.
As the operator of the weather site paulpoteet.com, Paul delivers forecasts on the Internet and is a go-to guy for media clients ranging from newspapers such as The Indianapolis Star and The Lafayette Courier-Journal to radio stations WZPL-FM (99.5) and WQME-FM (98.7). For nearly 15 years until 2009, he was the morning news meteorologist for WRTV-Channel 6 in Indianapolis.
Known for his wit and boundless energy, Paul has been a busy man this winter, which included a dozen days in Indianapolis during January and February when the temps plunged below zero. According to Paul, the 11.4 inches of snow that fell on Jan. 5 in the Indy area was "the second highest calendar-day snowfall since records began."
An independent forecaster, Paul owns Weather History Research, a business hired by insurance companies and law firms seeking historic weather data.
The snowiest winter on record in Indy was 1981-82, with a total of 58.2 inches.
And then there's the Blizzard of '78, which was the focus of our second show after Hoosier History Live! made its debut in January 2008. That blizzard, generally considered the worst in city history, involved a massive snowfall of 15.5 inches on top of more than 5 inches already on the ground.
According to Paul Poteet, the maximum snow depth ever recorded on the ground in the Indy area happened during the notorious Blizzard of '78. For three consecutive days (Jan. 26-28 of 1978), the snow depth measured 20 inches.
With wind chills reported at 51 degrees below zero, the Blizzard of '78 paralyzed the city, stranded hundreds of people at the American Red Cross shelter and at Indianapolis International Airport and led to the activation of the Indiana National Guard - even to the use of tanks - to rescue stranded motorists and stalled semis.
Our show, which was broadcast on the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, featured guests who included a pregnant woman who went into labor at a farmhouse in Franklin Township and the director of the Red Cross shelter.
As Paul Poteet joins Nelson, he draws comparisons and contrasts among other wicked winter seasons. Some winter history facts for the Indy area, courtesy of Paul:
Two weeks ago, Paul traveled to Alaska to cover the Iditarod in connection with one of his other gigs. With TV personality Patty Spitler (also a former Hoosier History Live! guest), Paul co-hosts Pet Pals TV, a syndicated magazine show that focuses on dogs, cats and an array of other pets.
Consider this: When Paul and Patty left for the Iditarod last week, it was colder across central Indiana (at 6 degrees) than in Alaska, where temps were in the low 20s.
And if history is any guide, Hoosiers may not be out of the woods for quite awhile in terms of the need for overcoats, or at least jackets. According to Paul, the last date of measurable snowfall in central Indiana was May 8. That late-season snowfall happened in 1923.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in the Indianapolis area occurred within the last 25 years.
On a day during January of the mystery year that became historically cold, the air temperature in Indy plunged to a record low of minus-27 degrees, not counting wind chill.
Question: What was the year?
Roadtripper: Yount's Woolen Mill, Shades and Allen's Country Diner
Guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard encourages us to discover some treasure in Montgomery County; county seat is Crawfordsville. A picturesque hidden paradise stands four miles west of Crawfordsville along Sugar Creek, which winds its way through all those wonderful sandstone cliffs in Shades State Park.
Yount's Woolen Mill is off Highway 32 west of Crawfordsville; it's south on Old Mill Road just west of Sugar Creek. It's rather tucked away.
Built in 1851, Yount's Woolen Mill provided much of the Grade A wool for Civil War uniforms. During its heyday about 300 women worked there, and sleeping quarters for the women were provided in the boarding house in front of the mill. The former boarding house now operates year-round as a bed and breakfast, Yountsville Mill Inn & Garden.
If you've absorbed enough natural beauty after hiking around Montgomery County, you can top off the day with some home cooking at Allen's Country Kitchen in downtown Crawfordsville. Tell them that the Roadtripper from Hoosier History Live sent you!
Bobby Plump on Milan's triumph, 60 years later
(March 8, 2014) - Can you think of any moment in Hoosier history that has become better known around the world than a buzzer-beating "last shot" in March 1954?
The basketball player who led underdog Milan High School to the championship in Indiana's state tournament in 1954 - a victory that inspired the movie Hoosiers - joins Nelson in studio to share insights (and separate facts from folklore and myths) as we mark the 60th anniversary of the "Milan Miracle."
Although Bobby Plump has been a public figure ever since his shot went in the basket at Hinkle Fieldhouse, he and his Milan teammates have been reaping even greater attention in recent weeks because of the big anniversary. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Hoosiers screenwriter Angelo Pizzo attended a ceremony at which a ramp at Hinkle was named in Plump's honor. And the 1954 Milan state champion teammates were honored two weeks ago during a basketball game at Butler University, home of the fieldhouse. (As most longtime Indiana basketball fans know, Bobby went on to play for Butler after graduating from Milan High.)
Amid the hoopla, Bobby somehow found time to phone in to Hoosier History Live! during our recent show about the history of Attucks High School so he could comment about Oscar Robertson and other outstanding players from the days when Indiana had an all-inclusive, single-class tournament.
Speaking of phoning in: With our call-in format, this show was an ideal opportunity for calling in and asking Bobby Plump, who is now 77, about the 1954 season that culminated with his game-winning shot. Thanks to that shot, Milan defeated Muncie Central High School 32-30 and made "Hoosier Hysteria" history.
Please keep in mind that Angelo Pizzo always has maintained - and Bobby frequently says - that the only aspect of the fictional Hoosiers (1986) that is lifted directly from the Milan story is "the last 18 seconds." (In other words, Bobby's last shot.) The relationship between Bobby and his real-life coach, Marvin Wood, for example, apparently was far different than the one between Jimmy Chitwood, the fictional star player in Hoosiers, and the coach played by Gene Hackman. Click here to watch video of Gene Hackman's inspirational locker room speech.
For those who need a refresher: In 1954, the year "David slew Goliath" in Indiana, Milan High School in Ripley County was one of the smallest schools in the state, with about 160 students and a class of 27 seniors. Those seniors included Bobby Plump, who actually grew up in nearby Pierceville, a town smaller than Milan - so small, in fact, it didn't have a high school.
That's why, just before the buzzer sounded at the 1954 state tournament, Bobby's last shot - which Nelson describes in his book Indiana Legends as "a stunning, 15-foot jump shot he scored against seemingly invincible Muncie Central" - instantly became iconic.
After being named Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" of 1954, Bobby played hoops as a Bulldog for legendary coach Tony Hinkle at Butler. Then he played for industrial and amateur teams before become an Indianapolis-based businessman and entrepreneur.
In the 1990s, Bobby crusaded against the creation of the multi-class state basketball tournament. His restaurant Plump's Last Shot in Broad Ripple displays vintage photos and memorabilia of the "Milan Miracle."
Photos and memorabilia also are exhibited at the Milan 54-Hoosiers Museum in the town that USA Today once called "arguably the most famous small town in high school sports history." In 1954, Milan had a population of about 1,150 - but crowds totaling more than 40,000 people flocked to the town the day after the upset victory in the state tournament.
Celebrations have continued on milestone anniversaries. For the 50th anniversary in March 2004, teams from Milan and Muncie Central had a rematch game.
Unlike the fictional Hickory Huskers team in Hoosiers, the Milan team in 1954 did not exactly burst from obscurity. The year before, Bobby Plump and his fellow Milan Indians had made it to the semifinals of the state tournament. And in 1954, Milan defeated powerhouse Attucks (when Oscar Robertson was a sophomore) to reach the Final Four. Of course, Oscar Robertson - known as the "Big O" - and his Attucks teammates would go on to capture back-to-back championships in the two years after Milan's triumph.
In terms of size, though, Milan certainly could have been considered an underdog in 1954. The tallest player on the team with Bobby Plump (5-feet-10) was Ron Truitt at 6-feet-2. Other players on the "Milan Miracle" team included Ray Craft, Gene White, Rollin Cutter and Roger Schroder. Bobby and some of the others had been playing barnyard basketball together since they were young boys. Like Bobby, Ray Craft and Rollin Cutter would go on to play at Butler for Coach Hinkle.
After graduating from Butler, Bobby played basketball with an industrial team based in Oklahoma called the Phillips 66 Oilers. In 1963, Bobby and his wife Jenine resettled in Indianapolis, where he launched a successful career in the insurance and financial planning business. They have three children - Tari, Kelli and Jonathan - and seven grandchildren.
The movie Hoosiers (1986) is set in the fictional small town of Hickory, Indiana. Its high school basketball team, the Huskers, bursts from obscurity to win the state championship in 1952. The year of the climactic tournament is just one of several deviations from real story of the Milan Indians, who won the championship in 1954.
Another deviation involves the small town team's final opponent. In real life, Milan defeated Muncie Central. In the movie, the Huskers beat a team from a different Indiana city, one that truly exists - unlike the fictional town of Hickory. In fact, the team that loses the climactic game in Hoosiers hails from a city that's larger than Muncie.
Question: What is the city?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the March 1 History Mystery for readers who did not get a chance to hear the show. The question: In March of 1982, two Hoosier women founded a business that they named in honor of one of their mothers. Although their company started modestly in the basement of one of the co-founders, it has become an international success. Still based in the Indiana city where it began, the company makes products used by millions of women every year.
Question: Name the business and the Indiana city where it is headquartered.
Answer: Vera Bradley and Fort Wayne.
Madam Walker: her life, business and theater building
(March 1, 2014) - As we welcome Women's History Month following our salute to Black History Month, Hoosier History Live! explores various aspects of a pioneer entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary whose life truly became iconic.
We have the best possible guest for our show about Madam Walker, the daughter of slaves who probably became the country's first self-made African-American woman millionaire. We also explore the Indianapolis landmark, the Madam Walker Theatre Center, that is among her legacies in her adopted hometown.
Nelson's guest is Madam Walker's great-great granddaughter and biographer, A'Lelia Bundles, who grew up in the Hoosier capital, graduated from North Central High School and Harvard, then became an Emmy Award-wining TV producer. She currently is based in the Washington D.C. area.
A former ABC News executive, A'Lelia wrote a critically acclaimed biography of her legendary ancestor, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Scribner, 2001).
Now A'Lelia is the author of a new book. Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure (Arcadia Publishing) explores the construction and evolution of - as well as the social history associated with - the block-long flatiron structure built on Indiana Avenue in the 1920s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Madam Walker (1867-1919) did not live to see the opening of the building designed as the new corporate headquarters of her Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co., which produced hair-care products sold internationally. But Madam Walker had the vision for the landmark building with a stage that, for more than 85 years, has been a venue for African-American performers such as Motown great Smokey Robinson and opera star Angela Brown, an Indy native.
When the Walker building had a grand opening in 1927, it included, in addition to the corporate offices, a movie theater, beauty salon, ballroom and a café called the Coffee Pot that was promoted with a distinctive coffee-pot-shaped sign on the exterior.
Madam Walker had been born as Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. By age 7, she was an orphan. She married during her teen years, had a daughter and, by age 20, was a widow. She found work as a laundress but in the 1890s suffered a severe scalp disease that, as A'Lelia notes in her new book, "was causing her to go bald."
From those inauspicious beginnings, Madam Walker created shampoos, ointments and other hair-care products that became enormously popular. The company she founded eventually employed and trained thousands of women. In 1910, she moved its headquarters to Indianapolis for several reasons, including the city's "Crossroads of America" reputation as a railroad hub that enabled efficient shipping across the country for her products.
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," A'Lelia writes in her new book, "that she also vowed that day to build her own movie theater."
The book includes dozens of vintage photos of the building that, since a major restoration in 1988, has been a cultural arts center. Its theater, designed in an African art deco style, not only is the venue for jazz, blues and gospel concerts, it has been the setting for performances by the Vienna Boys Choir.
In addition to being a pioneer African-American business leader, Madam Walker was a staunch advocate for women. The "on her own ground" reference in the title of A'Lelia's biography refers to a response that Madam Walker gave in 1912 when she was denied a request to be included on the program at the National Negro Business League convention:
"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. I was promoted from there to the washtub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods. ... I have built my own factory on my own ground."
With her success in business, Madam Walker became an arts patron and a major philanthropist, helping fund the Senate Avenue YMCA in Indianapolis and other organizations.
In addition to vintage photos of the Walker Theatre, A'Lelia's new book includes photos of Madam Walker's Indianapolis home (which has been demolished), ads for her hair care products and a photo of her final residence in New York, a mansion just a few miles from the estate of John D. Rockefeller.
In March of 1982, two Hoosier women founded a business that they named in honor of one of their mothers. Although their company started modestly in the basement of one of the co-founders, it has become an international success.
Still based in the Indiana city where it began, the company makes products used by millions of women every year. The two co-founders also have become major philanthropists, establishing a foundation for breast cancer research that has been a major donor to the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Question: Name the business and the Indiana city where it is headquartered.
By request, we are publishing the answer to the Feb. 22 show History Mystery for readers who did not get a chance to hear the show. The question: Among the famous Hoosiers included in Indiana Legends, one of the books by our host Nelson Price, is a contemporary artist who has been in the news this month. She has announced plans to sell her gallery, which has been located in a former Methodist church built in the 1860s. She intends to open a new gallery in New York City, although she plans to keep her central Indiana home and studio, where she paints on the upper floor of a horse barn. Who is the artist?
Answer: NANCY NOEL.
The artist, who was born of French heritage in Indianapolis in 1945, announced this month that she plans to sell The Sanctuary, her gallery on Main Street in Zionsville. The Sanctuary, which also includes a restaurant, is in a renovated historic building, a Free Methodist Church built in the 1860s.
In her announcement, Nancy Noel reported that she plans to open a New York City gallery, although she intends to keep her home and studio that are located on a rolling, 45-acre farm near Zionsville.
Roadtripper: Buffalo Trace in southern Indiana
Guest Roadtripper Andrea Neal tell us that bison hooves paved Indiana's first road, known as the Buffalo Trace. Long before Indiana became a state, American bison moved from the salt licks of Kentucky headed toward the grasslands of the Illinois prairie. In Indiana, the bison entered at the Falls of the Ohio and headed west through what later become Vincennes.
Very few remnants of their trail remain, but if you look closely you can still see sections of the Buffalo Trace. Andrea tell us that you can hike it too!
'Ask Nelson' - and Andrea Neal, too
(Feb. 22, 2014) - Once again, Hoosier History Live! turns the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, opens the phone lines and gives our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia." Just as with previous all-call-in shows, Nelson is joined by a distinguished co-host.
Not only is Andrea Neal a syndicated columnist and a member of the State Board of Education, she is a history teacher and a former editorial page editor at The Indianapolis Star. Andrea teaches at St. Richard's Episcopal School and has been writing a popular column about Indiana history - called "Indiana at 200" - as we advance toward the bicentennial of the Hoosier state in 2016. She also is an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and a board member of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
Like Nelson, Andrea grew up in Indianapolis and is descended from a long line of Hoosiers; both Nelson and Andrea are board members of the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a non-profit that celebrates the state's heritage and was founded by descendants of early settlers.
Andrea discusses the Native American group in Indiana known as the Miami. Unfortunately, they lost their federally designated tribal status more than 100 years ago due to what Andrea says was an administrative error. She shares details.
In terms of Hoosier history, Nelson's areas of expertise are famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.
Some of Andrea's recent "Indiana at 200" columns have focused on topics that we also have explored on Hoosier History Live! shows, including the utopian communities that attempted to flourish in New Harmony; the wine-making heritage in Switzerland County (it is believed to have been the site of the first successful winery in the entire country) and the boyhood of Abe Lincoln in what's now Spencer County.
Fun fact: In addition to the previous week's show about young Abe's relationships with his father, mother and stepmother, we did a program in February 2009 about Lincoln's youth. Nelson's studio guests then included Andrea and two of her eighth-grade students at St. Richard's who had immersed themselves in the early years of the 16th president.
Other recent columns written by Andrea have focused on William Henry Harrison, the first governor of the Indiana Territory in the early 1800s (decades later, he was elected U.S. president) and the bloody Battle of Tippecanoe, in which soldiers under Harrison's command defeated Shawnee forces led by the Prophet, the controversial brother of legendary leader Tecumseh.
Nelson's book Indiana Legends, now in its 4th edition and 7th printing, features profiles of more than 160 notables, ranging from frontier figures such as Mother Theodore Guerin (a Catholic nun from France who founded orphanages, schools and the academy that became St. Mary of the Woods College near Terre Haute), who was named Indiana's first saint, to contemporary figures including Hoosier astronauts, Olympic athletes and artists.
Nelson and Andrea worked together for several years at The Indianapolis Star. Before that, he was a feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis News, and Andrea was a Statehouse reporter for United Press International. So these two Hoosier history buffs began journalism careers at almost exactly the same time.
Among the famous Hoosiers included in Indiana Legends, one of the books by our host Nelson Price, is a contemporary artist who has been in the news this month. She has announced plans to sell her gallery, which has been located in a former Methodist church built in the 1860s. She intends to open a new gallery in New York City, although she plans to keep her central Indiana home and studio, where she paints on the upper floor of a horse barn.
The artist, who first achieved popular success with her portraits of children, grew up in Indianapolis. A teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School noticed her artistic talent and encouraged her. Celebrities who have owned her paintings include Robert Redford, the Beach Boys and the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
Question: Who is she?
Roadtripper: Belle of Louisville at Indiana Preservation Conference
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests a Roadtrip south on I-65 to visit the fabled riverboat, the Belle of Louisville. Though constructed in Pittsburgh in 1914 as the Idlewild, a ferry and freight packet, and living a vagabond's life in the 1950s, the Belle of Louisville dropped anchor on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River in 1962.
With engines built in the 1890s and still running strong, the Belle is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the country.
Louisville's "Legendary Lady" will be featured during Preserving Historic Places: Indiana's Statewide Preservation Conference in New Albany, Ind., April 9-11.
Attucks High School history
(Feb. 15, 2014) - During the 1920s, white segregationists in Indianapolis pushed for the creation of the city's only all-black high school. Unlikely as it may have seemed to many at the time, Attucks High School emerged to be a source of black pride for generations of Hoosiers.
As Hoosier History Live! salutes Black History Month, we explore the history of the high school attended by future legends, including basketball superstar Oscar Robertson; jazz musician David Baker; opera star Angela Brown and members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first African-American military aviators.
For this look at Attucks - which opened in 1927, became a junior high/middle school during the 1980s and '90s and now is once again a high school, with a magnet program for Indianapolis Public Schools students interested in medical careers - Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
According to several accounts, IPS officials initially wanted to name the all-black school Thomas Jefferson High School. Many black leaders objected both to the creation of the segregated school (African-Americans had been attending Shortridge High School, Manual High School and other IPS schools) as well as to the proposed name. School leaders eventually decided the namesake should be Crispus Attucks, an African-American who protested the British and is believed to have been the first American killed during the Boston Massacre of 1770.
By the time the new school opened, Dr. Warren writes, the concept of a separate high school for black students was being explored by other Indiana cities with sizable African-American communities.
"By 1929, both Gary Roosevelt High School in the northern part of the state and Evansville Lincoln High School in the south replicated the form and function of Crispus Attucks High School," according to his book.
Some history facts about the school, which is on the National Register of Historic Places:
In addition to exhibits about the school's history, the Crispus Attucks Museum celebrates African-American history with vintage photos, artwork and memorabilia, including musical instruments played during the heyday of jazz clubs on nearby Indiana Avenue. During a Hoosier History Live! show in March 2008, future jazz icon David Baker shared anecdotes about sneaking into Indiana Avenue nightspots in the late 1940s when he was an Attucks student - and underage - by resorting to a fake mustache and a beret to appear older.
Because African-Americans with post-graduate degrees had limited employment options for decades after Attucks opened, many often joined the faculty at Attucks. As a result, Attucks became known for its outstanding faculty members, who were recruited across the country.
According to an article by our guest, Dr. Warren, in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, the faculty when the school opened in 1927 included Mary Stokes, a "brilliant mathematician" who almost had been named valedictorian at Shortridge High School; she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Butler University. In addition to teaching math at Attucks, she taught Greek and sponsored the Poetry Club.The school's first principal, Mathias Nolcox, earned a doctorate from Harvard.
Ironically, given the school's eventual triumphs in basketball and other sports, Attucks "was built without a real gym," as the Indianapolis Star noted in a 2005 story on the 50th anniversary of the 1955 basketball championship. Instead, the school's auditorium included a combination stage/gym.
Initially, Attucks even was denied membership in the Indiana High School Athletics Association because it was not considered a "public" school - since white students were not included. Limited in the early years primarily to playing teams from other African-American high schools, Attucks players endured long, exhausting bus trips across the state. Attucks finally was allowed to compete in the IHSAA tournament in the 1940s.
Also during the 1940s, some Attucks alums were Tuskegee Airmen pilots in World War II. Harry Brooks, a member of the Class of '47, became a general in the U.S. Army. Another member of the Class of '47, John W. Lee, became the first black commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.
Illustrious graduates of Attucks High School who have been Hoosier History Live! guests include a member of the Class of 1953 who enjoyed a long career with the Harlem Globetrotters.
At Attucks, he and teammates such as Willie Gardner helped kick off what our guest, Stanley Warren, describes as the school's "basketball golden age" by helping take the Tigers to the state finals in 1951, where they were defeated by Evansville Reitz High School. Two years later, he was named the state's outstanding player, becoming Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" of 1953. That was followed by basketball triumphs at Indiana University.
Next came a 27-year career touring the world with the Globetrotters, first as a barnstorming player then in public relations.
In recent years, he has been an Indianapolis-based businessman and motivational speaker.
Question: Who is he?
The prize is five tickets to the Crispus Attucks Museum, courtesy of the Crispus Attucks Museum, as well as gift certificate to MacNiven's in downtown Indy on Massachusetts Avenue, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Abe Lincoln's parents: Thomas, Nancy Hanks and stepmom Sarah
(Feb. 8, 2014) - As he often has been depicted, was Thomas Lincoln merely an illiterate farmer who objected to his son's passion for reading and learning when the family lived in the Indiana wilderness?
What was the relationship like between young Abe Lincoln and his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died in Indiana when he was 9 years old? And what about the future 16th president's relationship with Sarah Johnston Lincoln, the widow from Kentucky who became his stepmother? Are there misconceptions about these parental relationships with Abe, who lived in southwestern Indiana during the character-shaping span between ages 7 to 21?
To explore these issues during the month when we celebrate the birthday of the "Great Emancipator" (1809-1865), Nelson has three guests:
With our distinguished guests, Nelson explores how Abe Lincoln's family life was greatly transformed during his years living in a small cabin in the frontier settlement of Little Pigeon Creek. The family of four - which included Lincoln's older sister, who also was named Sarah - evolved into a blended family after Thomas married Sarah (often called "Sally") Bush Johnston, who had children from her first marriage. And Dennis Hanks, the 18-year-old ward of Nancy Hanks Lincoln's aunt, moved into the one-room Lincoln cabin - and slept in the loft with young Abe - after his guardians died.
Amid all of the changing family dynamics, our guests will share insights about the parents of the lanky, book-loving youth who grew up to become perhaps America's greatest leader.
Our guest Steve Haaff, who has studied almost every piece of furniture available made by Thomas Lincoln, contends the patriarch long was misunderstood by historians because, as Steve told the Evansville Courier-Press, "they didn't speak the same language."
Steve, whose favorite style of furniture is Federalist, the type popular during Thomas Lincoln's era, says the family patriarch would have had to be highly skilled - and a master at calculations - to create the cabinets and other woodwork that he produced.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818) died from what frontier communities called "milk sickness" - the result of drinking milk from infected cows that had eaten white snakeroot. In his book, our guest Bill Bartelt describes white snakeroot as "a simple and abundant plant with a delicate white flower. ... Since colonial time, deaths from milk sickness occurred in isolated areas with few residents, drawing little interest from the medical profession."
That changed, he continues, when the frequency of deaths swept through frontier settlements like Little Pigeon Creek. He notes that Lincoln and their neighbors would not have known "what caused the milk to become poisoned - and that mystery made it difficult to prevent the deaths."
The Lincolns had moved from Hardin County, Kentucky, to what is now Spencer County, Indiana(then Perry County) for several reasons, including disputes over land ownership. Many experts also have concluded that Abe Lincoln's parents objected to slavery.
Tall for his age, young Abe was able to help his father build a cabin in Indiana's dense wilderness after the family's arrival. For their neighbors and others in Indiana, Thomas Lincoln made cabinets that displayed highly skilled craftsmanship for the era. They included a corner cabinet - now owned by the Indiana State Museum - that neighbors gave as a wedding gift to their daughter.
Referring decades later to his years in Indiana, Abraham Lincoln wrote, "There I grew up," accounting for the title of our guest Bill Bartelt's book.
After the death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who was buried on a hill near the cabin in southern Indiana, Thomas Lincoln (1778-1851) returned to Kentucky. That's where he married Sarah (or Sally) Bush Johnston, whose first husband had died at least three years earlier. She had three children (Elizabeth, Matilda and John), who moved with her to the Lincoln cabin in Little Pigeon Creek.
According to Bill Bartelt's book, young Abe "bonded quickly with his stepmother, who recognized and encouraged his desire to learn and read."
The Lincolns lived in Indiana until 1830, when they moved to Illinois. By then, Abe's sister Sarah had married and died in childbirth.
Of the three parents who raised Lincoln, only his stepmother lived to see him elected to the presidency. In fact, she outlived her stepson and died in 1869.
Roadtrip: Romance at the Limberlost
Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne suggests we enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day at Limberlost, the home of Hoosier author Gene-Stratton Porter in Geneva, Ind., in Adams County, south of Fort Wayne.
In addition to wine and dessert tastings, film historian Eric Grayson is generously allowing Limberlost to show the vintage 1934 film A Girl of the Limberlost, based on the book by Gene Stratton-Porter.
This special evening event is a fund raiser by the Friends of the Limberlost to help to raise funds to restore Gene Stratton-Porter's 1895 kitchen. Reservations are required; contact Curt or Randy at (260) 368-7428.
Dozens of buildings and businesses across Indiana have been named in honor of Abraham Lincoln since his death in 1865. In downtown Indianapolis, the Lincoln Hotel opened in 1918. It became known as one of the city's finest hotels during the first half of the 20th century and was the setting for political, civic and social gatherings, as was the rival Claypool Hotel.
During the 1960s, however, both hotels slid downhill. The once-grand Lincoln Hotel was demolished in the early 1970s. On its site, however, one of downtown Indy's first modern, urban hotels opened in 1976. The new hotel was hailed as a step in downtown revitalization. Although the hotel has undergone several renovations since then, it still stands on the site of the former Lincoln Hotel.
Question: Name the hotel.
By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Feb. 1 History Mystery question: Name the center on Central Avenue in downtown Indianapolis that provides emergency shelter, clothing and food for homeless families with children.
The Dayspring Center at 1537 Central Avenue in Indianapolis - near All Saints Episcopal Church - provides emergency shelter, clothing, and food for homeless families with children in central Indiana.
Dayspring traces its history to 1984, when Episcopalian volunteers opened a soup kitchen and a shelter in a church basement. Dayspring's center for emergency housing opened in the late 1980s. Nine years later, Dayspring began a transitional housing program to assist former residents who need assistance while working on longer-term goals. The agency estimates more than 10,000 children - and 3,000 families - have been helped at Dayspring Center since it opened.
Families, children, seniors and homeless: outreach heritage
(Feb. 1, 2014) - In 1883, a small group of German immigrants to Indianapolis, motivated by their Lutheran faith, started a home for orphans.
And in 1902, a residence known as the Jewish Shelter House, which offered care and services to the elderly, opened in Indy. By then, various services to the city's indigent - including financial assistance - had been offered for more than 40 years by the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society.
The heritage of the faith-based social outreach services that evolved from these beginnings will be explored with Nelson's studio guests from Lutheran Child and Family Services, Wheeler Mission Ministries and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.
Wheeler Mission, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary, had an early focus on outreach to women who had been disowned by their families, often for sexual activity; in the early 1900s, volunteers even operated a "rescue wagon."
According to several accounts, the focus of the non-profit organization shifted to helping homeless men during the Great Depression. Since 1929, Wheeler has had one of its highest-visibility sites at 245 N. Delaware St. in downtown Indianapolis.
Our guest Steve Kerr, Wheeler's development director, traces the evolution of Wheeler, which in recent years has added programs and residential facilities for men and women seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Just last week, Wheeler announced it will break ground for a 12,000-square-foot facility for the homeless that will be adjacent to its existing shelter at 520 E. Market St.
Wheeler also operates several other missions, including two shelters for women and children in Indy and an addiction recovery center in Monroe County.
Lutheran Child and Family Services also has significantly expanded its services and evolved since the founding of the initial orphanage in the 1880s on East Washington Street by members of two Lutheran congregations.
Developments have included the opening in 1956 of Lutherwood, a residential facility (which has since been completely rebuilt), as well as the expansion of "counseling and compassionate care to families."
Sven Schumacher, CEO of the Foundation for Lutheran Child and Family Services (and himself a German immigrant in 1985), shares details.
Nelson also is joined by Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the public affairs arm of the Jewish community. The Jewish Shelter House that opened at the turn of the last century eventually evolved into Hooverwood, a nursing facility that specializes in residential care, adult day services and other social services.
The heritage of Hooverwood, which opened at its current location at 7001 Hoover Road in 1970, is just one aspect of a much larger history of social service delivery by the Jewish community in Indianapolis. Our guest Lindsey Mintz will discuss the evolution of a range of social services, including the Jewish Community Center and the Albert & Sara Reuben Senior and Community Resource Center. It provides a broad range of services and programming for both Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the Hoosier capital.
According to several accounts, a settlement house for recent Jewish immigrants to the city - with special programs to help those who were poverty-stricken - as well as a community center were established more than 100 years ago. That was shortly after the opening of the shelter house for the elderly.
The Jewish community, Lindsey says, regards as one of its primary responsibilities "to care for those most in need. It's not only the fulfillment of a commandment to do so, but also helps create and sustain a society that is ultimately a safer, more hospitable society in which the Jewish community can thrive."
A third-generation Hoosier, Lindsey grew up in South Bend and has been executive director of the JCRC since 2012.
At Lutheran Family and Child Services, which turned 130 years old in 2013, our guest Sven Schumacher has been CEO of the foundation since 2006. That was two years after the ground-breaking for a complete rebuilding of Lutherwood, which the non-profit describes as "the most ambitious building project in the history of the agency." Additions to the facility at 1525 N. Ritter Ave. include dormitories, a chapel and a family center. Since the project's completion, Lutherwood has been able to treat 98 residential children as well as 60 students at its day school.
The first house, a small orphanage founded by the German immigrants in the 1880s, consisted of just nine rooms. It was overseen by Rev. Peter Seuel, a Lutheran minister who served as president until 1915. By then, the small orphanage had been replaced by a massive, three-story building on the near-eastside of Indy that served as a children's home until Lutherwood opened.
Today, Lutheran Child and Family Services partners on some programs with local German clubs and societies. Last year, the agency also began a collaboration with Community Health Network.
At Wheeler Mission Ministries, one of the key organizing figures, hardware salesman William Wheeler, also was a congregational leader at what became Central Avenue United Methodist Church. In fact, Wheeler oversaw the construction in the 1890s of the historic church building at 12th Street and Central Avenue that now is the state headquarters of Indiana Landmarks.
According to A Door of Hope, a book about Wheeler Mission Ministries' history published in 1993, many women in the congregation at the Methodist church were worried about the fate of "unwed mothers, referred to as 'friendless women'." In rented rooms on the upper floor of a building on South Street in 1893, the new organization called Door of Hope offered a place where young women - who had been cast out by their families, abandoned by their lovers or referred by police and hospitals - could stay.
Contending the mission should be broadened, William Wheeler persuaded congregation members to offer help to entire families. He and others "began intervening in the lives of families with husbands and fathers in jail," according to A Door of Hope.
After the stock market crash of 1929, "Wheeler morphed into a refuge for men," according to a recent story in The Indianapolis Star. The evolution and expansions of services has continued for decades. The expansion announced last week is for a facility of 12,000 square feet for the homeless adjacent to Wheeler's existing men's shelter on East Market St. The new facility is part of $6.5 million in upgrades planned for Wheeler's various facilities.
Roadtrip: Farmland in Randolph County
Film historian Eric Grayson suggests a Roadtrip to Farmland in Randolph County, on the eastern side of the state. The small town has one of the most active historic preservation organizations in the state.
Farmland was originally a railroad town, and it still is. The few blocks of historic buildings are bisected by the railroad tracks. The flat terrain and open view from the tracks make this a great spot for taking sunset pictures.
Farmland has a nice little 1950s-style diner, The Chocolate Moose. The town also is famous for an annual Chili Cook Off. And there's a grain elevator next to the tracks that's now called the Ole Thyme Market.
Farmland also is home to the world-famous Courthouse Girls. The courthouse in Winchester, the county seat of Randolph County, was in danger of being torn down, so Historic Farmland mobilized its volunteers. They had some of their senior ladies pose semi-nude behind models of the courthouse to create a promotional calendar to help save the courthouse. And it worked!
In 1984, a soup kitchen and an overnight shelter opened in the basement of an Episcopal church in Indianapolis. The shelter and soup kitchen were run by a small group of volunteers inspired by an Episcopal priest who had been offering a place to sleep to homeless people. As a result of increasing need, the programs expanded and, in the late 1980s, a renovated building opened as an emergency shelter to assist homeless families with children.
In the decades since then, it has evolved into an agency that works to prevent homelessness with a range of programming. This has included a center on Central Avenue that provides emergency shelter, clothing and food for homeless families with children. In the agency's transitional housing program, families who leave community shelters can live for up to two years while working on long-term goals. The center for emergency shelter has the same name as the non-profit agency that runs it.
Question: What is it called?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 25 History Mystery question: Name the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is entombed in a family mausoleum at Crown Hill.
Answer: BOOTH TARKINGTON.
The famous author and playwright, an Indianapolis native who was living in a mansion at North Meridian Street at his death in 1946, was entombed at Crown Hill. The Tarkington-Jameson family mausoleum is in Section 13 of the cemetery.
Tarkington won his two Pulitzer Prizes for the novels Alice Adams (1921), which more than 10 years later was made into a movie starring Katharine Hepburn, and The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), a novel about an aristocratic family in a Midwestern city called Midland; it was obviously based on Indianapolis.
His series of Penrod stories about adolescent growing pains are still praised as captivating by critics. The title character of Penrod inspired the name of an annual arts festival in Tarkington's hometown. Tarkington is considered one of Indiana's literary greats of the early 20th century, along with his friends James Whitcomb Riley and Meredith Nicholson, who also are entombed or buried at Crown Hill.
Crown Hill Cemetery history
(Jan. 25, 2014) - It's the third-largest private cemetery in the country, with a history that has been intertwined with Indianapolis since the 1860s. Crown Hill Cemetery also is the burial site of more American vice presidents than any other cemetery, as well as the gravesite of notables ranging from bank robber John Dillinger to poet James Whitcomb Riley and former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay.
As the landmark cemetery (which has had more than 200,000 burials since it was dedicated in 1864) turns 150 years old, Nelson explores its rich history, which also is being showcased in a lavish new book, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary (Indiana Historical Society Press).
He is joined in studio by three guests, including Keith Norwalk, president of Crown Hill Cemetery, and Douglas Wissing, an award-winning, Bloomington-based journalist and author who wrote much of the text for the book. They also are joined by Marty Davis of the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, who took many of the book's photos.
Crown Hill's creation resulted in some ways from problems and limitations involving the Hoosier capital's first major cemetery, a pioneer graveyard known as Greenlawn Cemetery.
Located near the White River, Greenlawn was prone to flooding - and it also, as Doug notes in the book, was overwhelmed by deaths during the Civil War. Civic leaders decided a spacious new cemetery was needed in a "park-like" setting on high ground. (As a tribute to James Whitcomb Riley, who died in 1916, the memorial monument for the "Hoosier poet" eventually was erected on the "crown" - or summit - of the cemetery. Riley had once written a poem titled At Crown Hill.)
A Pioneer Cemetery at Crown Hill has become the re-burial site of early Hoosier settlers. That's because their original graveyards have become "lost" (or closed, often for redevelopment), a topic that was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last June. Many Hoosiers buried at Greenlawn were reburied in the Pioneer Cemetery.
With its towering Gothic Gate built in 1885 at the eastern entryway off of West 34th Street, Crown Hill has scores of distinctive monuments, mausoleums and other gravesites. According to various reports, the most visited is the grave marker for Dillinger (1903-1934), who was known as Public Enemy No. 1. Some visitors even leave coins on his grave marker; the coins are donated to the Riley Children's Foundation.
Speaking of criminals: Vandalism of cemetery art sometimes has had a fortunate resolution. Our guest Keith Norwalk shares details about the 1995 theft - and recovery - of an 800-pound sculpture of a stone hunting dog that had rested next to the gravesite of his "master" since the 1880s. The stone dog was discovered across the country thanks to a sharp-eyed Crown Hill docent.
Some other history facts:
Our guest Keith Norwalk has been Crown Hill's president since 1991. Two years later, he oversaw the opening of an on-site mortuary, Crown Hill Funeral Home, at 38th Street and Clarendon Road.
Our guest Marty Davis has worked for more than 30 years at Crown Hill, where her husband, Tom, often is the guide for themed tours. Marty, who specializes in nature photography, has won several awards for her images.
During our show, she shares details about the "heroes of public safety" section of Crown Hill, including the Public Safety Memorial that honors Hoosier police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. (Marty has photographed many of their funerals.)
Our guest Doug Wissing, a journalist acclaimed for his international coverage, has reported on everything from the war in Afghanistan to a medical missionary/explorer in Tibet. Closer to home, Doug wrote about the history of brewing in the Hoosier state for his book Indiana: One Pint at a Time (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010).
During our show, Doug discusses details of a Dutch immigrant who chose to express frustration - with some justification - at his adopted homeland in the stone carving on his gravesite. (The grave marker is carved to look like a small replica of a Dutch barn of the early 1900s.)
Both Doug and Marty also discuss various aspects related to the burial site of Dillinger, an Indianapolis native who grew up on a farm near Mooresville and was fatally shot by federal agents in Chicago.
Doug shares details about the bank robber's funeral service - as well as the service for his mother, who died when Dillinger was 3 years old. (The boy attended her service and reacted dramatically.)
On a more serene note - but one that also has a Mooresville connection - we also explore daffodils. Specifically, Marty discusses Helen Link, a Morgan County resident who developed hundreds of varieties of the flower. Since her death in 2002, the Indiana Daffodil Society has been tending flowers around her memorial monument at Crown Hill, as well as elsewhere at the cemetery, including a Greek goddess statue.
"Each spring," Marty notes, "an important part of Helen Link blooms again as she rests nearby."
Roadtrip: An exploration of Shelbyville
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff recommends a short jaunt to Shelbyville, just a little southeast of Indianapolis. In 1822 Shelbyville was created on donated land to be the seat of Shelby County, established the year before.
Glory tells us that if you enjoy wandering around looking at great old buildings, this is the place. There are several civic, commercial and residential buildings in a great variety of styles over which to marvel. The county courthouse on South Harrison is one of three Art Deco courthouses in the state, constructed under the New Deal in the 1930s. Near it stands the last Civil War monument erected in Indiana, a simple statue of a Union soldier.
On the public square is a bronze sculpture commemorating author Charles Major, who lived in Shelbyville and certainly left his name around town. The sculpture depicts a character in his famous children's novel, The Bears of Blue River.
The Grover Museum at 52 W. Broadway is an exceptionally fine county museum, run by the Shelby County Historical Society and open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free!
Our Roadtripper says that if all this history makes you hungry, stop at the Cow Palace at 319 N. Harrison for all things ice cream, not to mention tasty sandwiches. It's open 7 days a week until 9. If you feel like something a tad more substantial, she recommends the restaurant Tour of Italy, just starting its third year in the southwest corner of the public square at 39 Public Square. Ciao!
A family mausoleum at Crown Hill Cemetery includes the tomb of a famous Hoosier novelist and playwright who died in 1946. He was born in Indianapolis in 1869 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two times, a rare accomplishment.
His novels were the basis for movies in the 1930s and '40s, with stars such as Katharine Hepburn.
Perhaps his best-known novel was set in a city that obviously was Indianapolis, although the author gave his hometown a fictional name in the book. The movie based on that novel was directed by Orson Welles.
The author also wrote a series of stories about a mischievous boy that are considered among the best ever written about Midwestern adolescence.
Despite his national fame, the author continued to live in Indianapolis, although he often spent summers at the resort town of Kennebunkport, Maine.
Question: Name this novelist, who is entombed in a family mausoleum at Crown Hill.
The prize is a copy of the new book, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary (Indiana Historical Society Press), as well as a pair of tickets to a historical tour of Crown Hill Cemetery, courtesy of Crown Hill Heritage Foundation.
By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 18 History Mystery question: What was the name of the mineral water sold at the West Baden Hotel? Hint: The character that symbolized the water was an elf or gnome-like figure.
Answer: SPRUDEL water.
Sold by the West Baden Springs Hotel, Sprudel water never become nearly as well-known and popular as Pluto water at the rival French Lick Springs Hotel. Some experts have attributed that to better marketing by French Lick; the content of both mineral waters has been described as nearly identical. In fact, both waters are said to be primarily laxatives.
In the early 1900s, the small towns of French Lick and West Baden each had high schools. A devil (Pluto) was the mascot of French Lick's basketball team, and an elf or gnome (Sprudel) was the West Baden mascot. By the time future superstar Larry Bird was growing up in the region, the high schools had been consolidated. Bird first drew widespread attention for his outstanding play at Springs Valley High School, the consolidated school.
Indiana's most mysterious county?
(Jan. 18, 2014) - With a limestone cave beneath the county seat of Paoli, a village underwater, colorful folklore involving the famous French Lick and West Baden Springs Hotels, a "lost" river and some Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War, Orange County in far-southwestern Indiana may be our most mysterious.
In this program, we explore the limestone cave beneath the historic Orange County Courthouse, where one of Nelson's guests has been a court reporter for more than 40 years. She is Orange County native Diane Dillard, a historic preservationist.
Her late husband, Arthur Dillard, a former prosecuting attorney, completed the manuscript for a book about Orange County's colorful heritage, Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians (Hawthorne Publishing, 2012), before his death.
In addition to Diane, Nelson's guests are two historians/authors with their own links to Orange County's heritage.
They include Jim Fadely, who is considered the top expert on Thomas Taggart (1856-1929), the Irish immigrant-turned-Indianapolis mayor-turned French Lick hotel owner who brought international attention to the resort and its mineral springs and spas.
Jim, an administrator at University High School, is heading up a campaign to restore the long-neglected Taggart Memorial at Riverside Park in Indianapolis; Indiana Landmarks had placed the limestone monument on its 10 Most Endangered list for a couple of years.
Nelson's guests also include author Nancy Niblack Baxter of Hawthorne Publishing, who edited Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians. The casinos in the title refer to gambling that, although illegal in the early 1900s, openly flourished during the first heyday of the French Lick hotel and its arch-rival in West Baden.
Owners of the West Baden hotel, built in 1902, included a flamboyant entrepreneur, Ed Ballard, who, like Taggart, rose from humble beginnings to become a millionaire. Our guest Jim Fadely will share insights about Ballard, who was shot to death in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1936.
The West Baden hotel, called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" upon its opening in 1902 because of its spectacular atrium and other features, closed as a hotel in the 1930s. After a lavish restoration spearheaded by the late philanthropist Bill Cook and his wife, Gayle, the West Baden Springs Hotel reopened in 2007. The Cooks also oversaw the restoration of the French Lick Springs Hotel.
Earlier hotels on the French Lick site - including one that may have been a "hotbed of Copperhead activity" - are described in Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians. ("Copperhead" was a term for Southern sympathizers during the Civil War; it derives from copper buttons some wore.)
The Copperhead presence is analyzed by Arthur Dillard, a former president of the Orange County Historical Society, who spent years researching folklore about the county.
The mysterious cave underneath a vast section of Paoli, including the impressive courthouse, exists in part because, as his book puts it, "Ice Age glaciers did not touch this region."
In fact, the cave includes a cavern bigger than the courthouse, according to the book.
Diane and Nancy share insights about that, as well as about Newton Stewart, an Orange County village that thrived during the late 1800s but had been abandoned by the early 1970s. Subsequently, the village was flooded as part of the creation of Patoka Lake.
They also discuss bygone dry goods and general stores that once thrived in Orange County, as well as such mysterious street and place names as Moonshine Hollow, Grease County Road, Tater Road and Hog's Defeat Creek. The area's mineral springs appealed to Native Americans decades before white settlers arrived. French Lick's distinctive name derives from the fact that French explorers had obtained salt from the springs.
According to Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians, the valley's first hotel, which was known as the French Lick House, opened in 1845. Its owner was William A. Bowles, a Confederate sympathizer, physician and civic leader.
His hotel was a predecessor of the spectacular French Lick Springs Hotel that Taggart, a nationally powerful Democrat, marketed in the early 1900s to guests, including the Rockefellers, Roosevelts, Vanderbilts and Studebakers. (The memorial to Taggart was built in Riverside Park because, as Indy's mayor and a passionate advocate of parks, Taggart pushed for the city's purchase of the parkland despite critics who denounced it as a flood-prone "folly.")
Our guest Jim Fadely, the chairman of the Taggart Memorial Task Force that is crusading to restore the memorial, is the author of Thomas Taggart: Public Servant, Political Boss (Indiana Historical Society Press).
Just as Taggart was a Democratic power broker, various owners at the rival West Baden hotel were well-connected Republicans. As a result, when gambling linked to both hotels flourished during the early 1900s, local public officials often ignored the goings-on because leaders of both political parties were involved.
The atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel was the world's largest free-span dome until the Astrodome in Houston opened in the 1960s.
Ever since the lavish restoration, West Baden has again been a luxury hotel; it's a National Historic Landmark.
Other facts about the county with so many twists, turns and mysterious or historic features:
Roadtrip: Kurt Vonnegut's Who am I this Time?
Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications tells us about Kurt Vonnegut's Who am I this Time? - which opens at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on Jan. 28 and is directed by IRT artistic director Janet Allen.
The show is a quirky collection of some of Vonnegut's most endearing characters who are searching for love and identity. The material is taken from the Indy hometown author's first short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House.
Also at the IRT, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, opening Jan. 17. IRT Playwright in Residence James Still's most-produced play combines video and live performance, combining videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss with live actors recreating scenes from their lives during World War II. James Still also been a guest on Hoosier History Live!
More than 100 years ago, the French Lick Springs Hotel became famous for selling Pluto water, the mineral water that was promoted as a curative for a range of ailments. Pluto water was marketed for many decades with an image of a red, devil-like figure who symbolized Pluto, ruler of the underworld.
At the arch-rival West Baden Springs Hotel, "curative" mineral water was bottled and sold as well for many years in the early 1900s. Rather than call their product Pluto water, West Baden owners sold and marketed their mineral water under a different name.
Question: What was the name of the mineral water sold at the West Baden Hotel?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 11 History Mystery question: Indiana native Ernie Pyle was the World War II journalist most admired by the American public and was killed during the war. In what state was he buried?
Ernie Pyle's burial site is at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Informally known as Punchbowl Cemetery, the national cemetery serves as a memorial to honor men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces and lost their lives doing so.
Ernie Pyle is one of the few American civilians killed during World War II to be awarded the Purple Heart. That distinction is noted on his gravestone at the memorial cemetery in Hawaii, which is visited by millions of tourists annually.
Pyle's parents had been sharecroppers in Dana, where his restored boyhood home is located.
World War II veterans remember
(Jan. 11, 2014) - Ranging from Marines, sailors and others who survived combat on the front lines to Hoosiers who served on the home front, more than 84 veterans of World War II, all with links to Indiana, have described their personal stories to educators Steve Hardwick and Duane Hodgin.
Then Steve and Duane, who were colleagues in Lawrence Township Schools in Indianapolis, pulled the remembrances together in a book titled WWII Duty, Honor, Country: The Memories of Those Who Were There (iUniverse, 2013).
Now Steve, a fifth-grade teacher at Indian Creek Elementary School and a U.S. Army veteran, and Duane, who has retired as a school administrator and returned to live in his hometown of Richmond, are Nelson's guests.
They are joined by a World War II veteran, Noblesville resident Merrill "Lefty" Huntzinger, who was a staff sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division.
"Lefty" landed at Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day. In the book, he recalls asking his squad leader where they were going. This was his reply: "We're going to hell, and if we are lucky, we will soon land up in heaven."
Fortunately, "Lefty" survived the global conflict that, as Steve and Duane put it in their introduction, some historians consider to be the "single most significant and influential event of the 20th century."
Among the Hoosiers whose memories are featured in their book is the late Jimmy O'Donnell, a U.S. Navy machinist who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific Ocean by a Japanese submarine.
The episode often is described as the Navy's "worst tragedy at sea." About 800 of the crew (out of a total of 1,190) survived the sinking by remaining afloat in the dark, oil-covered ocean waters - for awhile. Help did not arrive for nearly five days, though. By then, about half of those sailors had drowned or had been killed by sharks.
In 1995, a monument to the USS Indianapolis was dedicated in downtown Indy. Jimmy O'Donnell, who retired as a firefighter, attended that ceremony; he died last January at age 92.
Other veterans of WWII whose memories are shared in the book by Steve and Duane include an Indy native who was one of the first group of African-Americans to serve in the Marines, as well as a nurse from Corydon who, like our guest "Lefty," landed at Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day. Serving in a trauma unit, she treated soldiers with serious head, chest and abdominal injuries.
As The Indianapolis Star noted in an article about Steve and Duane's book last February, the experiences described by the veterans include "some (that are) funny, some sad, some gut-wrenching and some awe-inspiring."
The book evolved from a history project Steve initiated in 2001 at Indian Creek. A tribute to WWII veterans, the event has become an annual gathering in Lawrence Township and has been attended by many of the 84 veterans profiled in the book. Of the 84, all are at least 87 years old; about 15 have died since Steve and Duane began their interviews and collecting photos.
Those whose stories are featured include Eugene Hodgin of Richmond, the father of our guest Duane Hodgin. Duane was born while his father, a tech sergeant with the medical battalion in the 38th Infantry Division, was serving in New Guinea. Eugene did not see his first son until he was 15 months old. While serving his country, he severely injured his back lifting heavy crates of medical supplies.
"I was on my back in a tent for 30 days and could not move," he recalls in the book. Following that ordeal, he contracted a severe case of malaria.
Our guest "Lefty" Huntzinger was assigned to a machine gun squad that was fighting German soldiers. In the book, he shares memories of nightly rotations pulling guard duty.
"It's a lonely, scary assignment because you're all alone, and you feel that the enemy has you in sight, and you could be shot at any time."
He also shares memories of crawling out of his foxhole to drag away a dying comrade whose open chest was full of shrapnel. "Lefty" eventually was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor.
Other Hoosier veterans whose stories are highlighted during our show (and who are featured in the book) include:
Indiana native Ernie Pyle was the World War II journalist most admired by the American public. He told the soldiers' stories, reporting from the front lines, rotating among the various branches of service as he joined U.S. troops fighting in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.
In April 1945, as the war was winding down, Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner when his jeep came under fire. His remains eventually were brought to the United States for burial, but he was not buried in his hometown of Dana in far-western Indiana. Instead, Ernie Pyle's remains were buried in another state.
Question: What is the state?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 4 show History Mystery: To help save a historic county courthouse in Indiana from demolition, several members of a local bridge club came up with a creative - some said quirky - idea to raise funds and public awareness in 2006. The women, most of whom were in their 80s (some were even in their 90s), posed for a calendar - in the buff. In what Indiana county is the courthouse?
Answer: RANDOLPH COUNTY.
Members of a bridge club in the east-central Indiana town of Farmland were appalled in 2006 when they learned that the Italianate courthouse in Randolph County was scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a new building.
Inspired by a movie titled Calendar Girls (2003), the women - most of whom were more than 80 years old - undressed and posed for the Court House Girls Calendar. They stood behind small, porcelain replicas of their beloved courthouse.
Eventually, the vote by county commissioners to demolish the courthouse was overturned. State legislators also credited the calendar girls with prodding the General Assembly to create a preservation commission on Indiana courthouses.
Squirrel invasion of 1800s and other quirky episodes
(Jan. 4, 2014) - Regular listeners may remember a phone caller during a recent show who sought details about the "Great Squirrel Invasion" during the 1820s and '30s in Indiana.
Our host Nelson confirmed the freakish episode had occurred - it apparently was almost akin to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, albeit with swarms of squirrels instead of flocks of birds as the invasive species - but he did not have details to share.
It so happens that some Hoosier historians have researched the squirrel saga; one of them is among our studio guests.
As a lighthearted way to kick off the new year (our sixth on the air), we also explore other quirky chapters in Hoosier history. In addition, Nelson and his guests debunk aspects of our folklore that, as it turns out, are significantly distorted or embellished accounts of what actually happened.
The seemingly sudden and unsettling presence of thousands and thousands of squirrels in the wilderness and towns across early Indiana, though, is no myth.
Tom, one of our state's most popular county historians and an expert on canals, Italian immigration and other aspects of our heritage, joins Nelson in studio as we explore the squirrel invasions. In his column, Tom noted that early Indianapolis civic leader, attorney and landowner Calvin Fletcher described the massive number of squirrels in the 1820s - and wrote about the devastation they wrought - in his diaries.
Also quoting from Calvin Fletcher's diaries, Indianapolis historian Connie Zeigler noted that one Marion County resident, in desperation, killed 248 squirrels at his home in just three days. In a 2008 column in Urban Times, a monthly newspaper that covers Indy's historic neighborhoods, Connie described the squirrel numbers of the 1820s as "incomprehensible in the mind of a modern city dweller."
In addition to Tom Castaldi, a native of Logansport, Nelson is joined in studio by Jason Lantzer, who has taught history at Butler University, serves as the interim coordinator of its honors program and, like Tom, is widely acclaimed for his broad knowledge of our Hoosier heritage.
So Jason, a native of Wakarusa in far-northern Indiana, shares insights about various quirky episodes that have unfolded in Indiana. He also is the author of books, including Prohibition Is Here To Stay (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).
Back to the squirrels. According to Tom’s column, a second squirrel invasion - this one during the 1830s - was documented by Wabash County historians and affected nearly the entire state.
"Early settlers equated them to an army on the move," according to Ron Woodward and Gladys Harvey, co-authors of Wabash County Chronicles (The History Press, 2010). "The vast hordes were so thick that their weight would cause tree limbs to fall. ... The corn crop was nearly decimated."
Tom Castaldi notes: "Even the Wabash River could not stop the little varmints as they swam the river or crossed on overhanging tree limbs, even forming a living chain bridge for other squirrels to cross."
The explanations for these bizarre invasions?
They apparently relate to environmental changes in the wilderness that caused hordes of squirrels to migrate to Indiana in search of food. During our show, Tom will share insights.
Lest you conclude the new year has made Hoosier History Live! go all squirrelly, we also explore such quirky episodes as:
Tom Castaldi, who has researched the episode (Cass County, which includes Tom's hometown of Logansport, is named in honor of Lewis Cass) will explain what really happened. After negotiating treaties with Native Americans in Indiana, Lewis Cass (1782-1866) became the governor of Michigan, then a U.S. senator from our neighboring state, followed by a stint as U.S. secretary of state. He even was a Democratic presidential candidate.
A board member of the Canal Society of Indiana, Tom Castaldi shares other quirky episodes involving the Hoosier state's rivers and canals during our show.
Tom is the author of a series of notebooks about the Wabash and Erie Canal's creation and impact in several counties, including Allen, Huntington, Cass, Carroll, Tippecanoe, Wabash and Miami counties.
Some other history nuggets (or should we say history "nuts," in honor of our squirrel topic?):
Roadtrip: How many stars at Indiana Roof?
How many stars did you rate if you performed at the Indiana Roof in the 1930s? We know about the stars in the "sky" at the Roof, but guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard tells us about a unique stage door where, from 1931 to 1936, two Indiana Roof employees, John "Jhon" Young and Thomas "Tohm" Kelly, faithfully rated all the performers who appeared on stage there. (Apparently the two had stage names with slightly exotic spellings).
Cab Calloway and Jan Garber were given four stars by "Jhon" and "Tohm," and the two gave themselves five stars. The door remains in the ballroom today; it is to the left of the stage as you face it.
The Indiana Roof first opened in September of 1927 and was designed to appear as if you were in a European village. Painted grapevines creep up plaster columns, and the stucco facades, doorways and balconies contain exquisite details. The domed ceiling over the circular ballroom resembles a starry night sky, with soft clouds and a crescent moon. As a special treat, every once in a while you get to see and hear a thunderstorm!
To help save a historic county courthouse in Indiana from demolition, several members of a local bridge club came up with a creative - some said quirky - idea to raise funds and public awareness in 2006. The women, most of whom were in their 80s (some were even in their 90s), posed for a calendar - in the buff.
During the photo shoots, small replicas of the historic courthouse were discreetly positioned in front of the "calendar girls" in order to, as some accounts described it, "protect their dignity."
The calendar sold thousands of copies and drew national attention to the crusade to save the county courthouse. The bridge-playing calendar girls became unlikely celebrities and were credited with convincing officials to spare the courthouse, which was built in 1877.
Question In what Indiana county is the courthouse?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Dec. 21 show History Mystery: What was the department store chain that traces its beginnings to Vincennes?
The company was founded by Adam Gimbel, a young Bavarian immigrant who opened a general store in Vincennes in 1842. His two sons, Jacob and Isaac, were born in Vincennes during the 1850s.
Family members opened a successful department store in Milwaukee in the 1880s. Next came a large store in Philadelphia, followed in 1910 by the iconic Gimbels store in New York City overseen by Jacob Gimbel. The rivalry between Macy's and Gimbels was legendary and inspired a subplot of the 1947 movie "The Miracle on 34th Street."
Gimbels had 36 stores across the country, including its flagship New York City store, when the retailer closed in 1987.
Union Station history in Indy and Political cartoon heritage: Two classic shows
(Dec. 28, 2013 - encore presentations) - For generations of Hoosiers traveling by rail, Union Station in Indianapolis was at its bustling peak during holiday seasons. And iconic images created by political cartoonists (albeit non-Hoosiers) have included Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.
So as a holiday season treat, Hoosier History Live! will broadcast encore shows focusing on those two topics. Instead of a one-hour program, you can enjoy two back-to-back, half hour shows from our archives of more than 270 programs in nearly six years of covering all aspects of our Hoosier heritage.
Union Station history in Indy
During the first classic show (original air date: March 3, 2012), we explore an aspect our heritage that became a national "first." For the first time in American history, railway lines came together in a single central Indiana train depot, the country's first "union" station. It happened in Indy in 1853, six years after the first railroad reached the Hoosier capital.
The opening of Union Depot helped account for explosive growth in Indy and the city's longtime "Crossroads of America" nickname. In the 1880s, the initial depot was replaced by a nearby, majestic Union Station designed in Romanesque Revival architectural style with elegant Rookwood tiles in its interior and a 185-foot clock tower that became a city landmark.
To discuss the history of the station listed on the National Register of Historic Places - as well as the impact of the railroads on Indy - Nelson is joined in studio by architectural photographer Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography. Garry, who often is a commentator on tours of the station, also is the corporate photographer for Crowne Plaza Union Station.
During the show, Garry shares insights about how train travel initially was considered unsafe - with good reason. Even so, its popularity soared, with Indy serving as a major cross-country hub.
Fun holiday history fact: During the late 1940s, a 51-feet-high Styrofoam replica of Santa Claus - known as "Santa Colossal" - was positioned in the train terminal to greet passengers. Santa Colossal "spoke" yuletide greetings and was so popular that postcards with his image were handed out at Union Station for years afterward.
Political cartoon heritage with Gary Varvel
Whether creating visual commentary about tragedies such as the 9-11 terrorist attacks or creating mythical characters such as Brown County's cracker-barrel philosopher Abe Martin and whimsical Raggedy Ann, Hoosier political cartoonists have been at the cultural epicenter.
To explore the rich heritage of political cartooning - including images that range from lighthearted to poignant to controversial - Nelson is joined in studio on this classic show by Gary Varvel, the award-winning political cartoonist for The Indianapolis Star. (This classic show's original air date was Aug. 13, 2011.) Gary, whose work is syndicated to more than 100 newspapers through Creators Syndicate, has created dozens of images that have made readers' blood boil, provoked them to laugh or inspired them to think.
During the show, Gary explains the derivation of Santa Claus as a newspaper cartoon character.
Nelson and Gary also explore the impact of Abe Martin, the fictional character (sample quip: "You can take a voter to the polls, but you can’t make him think") created in 1904 by Indianapolis News cartoonist Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard (1868-1930). His homespun wisdom became enormously popular across the country.
As for Gary, his best-known cartoon probably has been one drawn in reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. A depiction of a weeping Uncle Sam holding a limp firefighter while the smoldering skyline of New York City crumbles in the background, the cartoon resulted in requests for copies from thousands of readers. The Star printed his 9-11 cartoon as a poster for sale and raised $130,000 for relief efforts in New York.
As for Raggedy Ann: The book series and dolls were created by former Indianapolis Star cartoonist Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), who grew up near the Lockerbie neighborhood in Indy. Names and traits of his famous creation were inspired by blending two of his favorite James Whitcomb Riley poems: "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie."
Victorian-era and ethnic holiday traditions
(Dec. 21, 2013) - Buckle up for a time-traveling sleigh ride with Hoosier History Live! as we explore holiday traditions of earlier eras - as well as yule-season and new year customs brought to this country by various ethnic heritage groups.
Ever wonder about the evolution of holiday greeting cards and what they would have been like during the Victorian era? An immigrant from an ethnic heritage group started the mass printing in America of holiday cards during the 1870s. (You will have to tune in to learn details.)
To share insights about ethnic immigration holiday traditions - cherished, bygone or transformed in various ways - Nelson is joined in studio by a diverse group of guests. They also share insights about folk traditions associated with the holidays during the Victorian and Edwardian eras stretching from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s.
Nelson's guests are:
The Christmas and New Year's traditions that we explore range from festive to poignant.
According to Rosaleen, Irish families on New Year's Day often set a place at the table in remembrance of those who have died.
She also describes an Irish twist on the seasonal "kissing under the mistletoe" tradition: On New Year's Eve, some single Irish women slip mistletoe under their pillows. That means they will meet their future husbands during the new year, according to folklore.
Our guest Nancy Grant, whose areas of expertise include energy technology (she writes a monthly “Future of Electricity” column for Kentucky Living magazine), reports that the tradition of putting lights on holiday trees began in 1882.
Fun fact: As regular listeners of Hoosier History Live! - or visitors to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site - may recall, the only American president elected from the Hoosier state has a yule-season claim to fame. Benjamin Harrison (who served from 1888 to 1892) and First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison became the very first First Family to have a decorated Christmas tree in the White House.
We explored this aspect of their heritage during a holiday season show in 2011 with Jennifer Capps, curator of the presidential site. During the show, Jennifer noted that President Harrison, who had a beard and a slightly stocky frame, portrayed Santa on at least one occasion.
During this show, our guest Olga Kenner describes a five-pointed star that Filipino families often place on their front doors (similar to the way Americans hang wreaths) during the Christmas season.
Noting that the Philippines was under Spanish rule for generations, Olga estimates about 80 percent of the population in her ancestral homeland is Catholic. That means many Filipino traditions, including attending midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, derive from Spanish and/or Catholic traditions.
"When I was a girl, we would go to midnight Mass, then come home and there would be our presents," Olga said. "It was late in the evening, but we would open the gifts right then, not wait until morning."
Also during our show, Nancy Grant describes how enterprising merchant F. W. Woolworth began importing glass ornaments from Germany in 1880. Then he sold them across the country.
The Eastern European tradition of setting out shoes happens on Dec. 6, St. Nick's Day.
Our guest Rosaleen, who also is a member of the Association of International Women, describes Irish activities related to St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26), setting a table with "Christmas crackers" and what typically happens on the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 6).
Nancy Grant is convinced that various Christmas aromas from the kitchen provide clues about a family's ethnic heritage. Cinnamon: maybe British for figgy pudding. Licorice or anise: German for springerles. Also in terms of seasonal goodies, Olga describes the variety of home-made sweets that Filipinos typically serve this month.
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that it doesn't have to be Christmas time to head to Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville (347 Spring Street), a candy store, soda fountain, and lunch counter that is more than 120 years old! (Jeffersonville is, of course, just across the Ohio River from Louisville.)
But at Christmas especially, Schimpff's is a fantasy land filled with jars and glass cases of its yummy candy. You can even watch them making it in the adjoining space, which also houses their candy museum. After you consider your many choices of candy for gifts and a few for yourself, have an old-fashioned lunch - maybe an egg salad sandwich and a chocolate phosphate. Then take a stroll down historic Spring Street, with its many interesting shops.
Are needle arts your thing? There is a wonderful yarn shop with the bizarre name of Grinny Possum across the street from Schimpff's.
A little farther south is a novelty shop, with every kind of costume, favor, decoration, etc. you can possibly imagine. Horner Novelty at 310 Spring Street touts itself as the world's largest party store, and it may well be.
A few blocks north at 723 Spring Street is the new location of the Vintage Fire Museum, but currently it is open only on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan accordingly.
If all that isn't enough, not too far off to the southeast is the Howard Steamboat Museum on Market Street along the river. It's a great pile of a house with a fantastic collection of artifacts and ephemera telling the history of steamboats in general and those built in Jeffersonville in particular. It's an easy drive down I-65 from Indy to enjoy this scenic river town.
A nationally known department store that became associated with the holiday season had its beginnings during the 1840s in Vincennes, Indiana's oldest city. Most Americans associate the retailer with New York City, where it opened a flagship store that flourished for generations of shoppers. But the retailer's founder, a Bavarian immigrant, actually began in business with a general store in Vincennes. Eventually, he moved his business to Milwaukee, then expanded it considerably for 40 years and achieved success in other cities.
The New York City department store opened in 1910. It had a fierce, decades-long rivalry with another retailer that even became a major aspect of the plot of a classic movie with a Christmas theme. When the department store chain closed during the 1980s, it had 36 stores across the country.
Question: What was the department store chain that traces its beginnings to Vincennes?
By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Dec. 14 show History Mystery: What is the name of the dinosaur, which is also the first name of the paleontologist who discovered it?
Paleontologist SUE HENDRICKSON was born in Chicago in 1949 but grew up in Munster. While working for the Black Hills Institute, Sue Hendrickson discovered the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex on a Native American reservation in South Dakota. Now known as "Sue" in her honor, the dinosaur remains are considered to be the largest and best-preserved T-Rex ever discovered.
After the entire skeleton was assembled, it was 40 feet long from its nose to its tail. For more than 13 years, "Sue," the T-Rex skeleton, has been exhibited at the Field Museum.
Sue Hendrickson also been credited with discovering other important fossils and artifacts.
Indiana during the Ice Age, when mastodons roamed
(Dec. 14, 2013) - In this show, we delve into the deepest era of Hoosier history - and the coldest.
To explore the Ice Age, including the landscape of - as well as plant and animal life (including mastodons) once found in - the part of Earth that eventually became Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts from the Indiana State Museum.
His guests are Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology, and Ron's colleague Damon Lowe, chief curator of science and technology. They have been the key figures in putting together the blockbuster exhibit Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons that opened in November at the State Museum.
According to Ron, mastodon bones have been discovered in most of Indiana's 92 counties.
The exhibit features actual skeletons, skulls and casts of Ice Age animals as well as fossils. The Indiana State Museum contends its collection of Ice Age bones is the largest in the Midwest. Some of the bones belonged to a mastodon that was discovered on a farm near Fort Wayne and has been named "Fred."
According to our experts, a frigid climate more than 80,000 years ago forced an expansion of the Arctic ice sheets. The largest sheet covered much of North America, including the future state of Indiana.
As described by the State Museum, mastodons like Fred were "shorter, stockier cousins" of mammoths, which also roamed prehistoric Indiana about 13,000 years ago. Mammoths were not as plentiful here as mastodons, though.
"Like modern elephants, mastodons could live 60 years or more, but few made it to retirement (age)," according to an article in Indianapolis Monthly magazine's November issue.
In conjunction with the Ice Age Giants exhibit at the State Museum, the nearby IMAX Theater is showing a movie, Titans of the Ice Age, that depicts the era in 3D. It's an age described as inhabited by "saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, dire wolves and woolly mammoths."
A skeleton of a dire wolf, a type of wolf that co-existed with mammoths and mastodons in Indiana, is displayed at the State Museum.
The museum has been involved in what's known as "bone recovery" of prehistoric remains since the late 1970s. The first major excavation site was near Bass Lake in Starke County.
Since then, significant excavations have occurred near Hebron in northwest Indiana and near the city of Plymouth. Mastodon bones also have been found in a bed of the White River in southern Indiana. The average excavation takes two weeks and a crew of about 10 staff members from the State Museum and volunteers.
The skeleton of Fred, the mastodon, is about 9 feet tall and 250 feet long. His skull alone weighs 250 pounds.
Some other Ice Age history nuggets:
Roadtripper: Sing along with Handel's Messiah
Ever affable Guest Roadtripper Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography suggests we check out one of Indy's newest holiday traditions. It's the opportunity for any and all to sing selections from Handel's Messiah along with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Encore Vocal Arts. No singing experience needed!
Sit in your section (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) or sit with your friends and family, whatever is most comfortable for you! Grab your score; you can also download one from icomusic.org, borrow or purchase a score for $5 at the performance.
The Sing-Along takes place Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Indiana Landmarks Center Grand Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets are $30 for adults and $12 for students.
Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra also performs Handel's Messiah on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.
One of the world's most famous sets of dinosaur fossils - the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex considered the most complete and best preserved ever found - is exhibited at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. However, there is an Indiana connection to the T-Rex. The specimen has been named in honor of the woman who discovered it. She is a paleontologist who grew up in Munster, Ind.
Although the future discoverer was born in Chicago, her family moved to Munster when she was a young child. She lived in the northwestern Indiana city until age 16.
In 1990, while excavating in South Dakota, she discovered the Tyrannosaurus skeleton, which is considered 90 percent complete. It's been exhibited at the Field Museum since 2000.
Question: What is the name of the dinosaur, which is also the first name of the paleontologist who discovered it?
The prize is a gift certificate to New Orleans on the Avenue restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Nov. 30 show answer was: A STEER.
Known as "Old Ben," the steer has been displayed in Kokomo's Highland Park since before World War II. His weight upon his death in 1910 was estimated at more than 4,500 pounds. Old Ben was born on a farm in 1902 and apparently weighed at least 125 pounds at birth. During his life, the steer became famous and was exhibited at various festivals.
After Old Ben slipped on ice and broke both legs in 1910, he had to be put down. His owners had him stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist to prove to future generations of doubters that an animal of his gigantic size once existed. In the pavilion in Highland Park, Old Ben is exhibited next to a pile of hay.
Old Northside neighborhood in Indy history
(Dec. 7, 2013 encore presentation) - Thanks to spacious Italianate and Queen Anne-style houses built in the late 1800s, the Old Northside in Indianapolis became the city's posh neighborhood through the World War I era.
By the 1970s, when urban pioneers Paul Smith, Rick Patton and their wives moved into two of the historic homes, the neighborhood had become, as Rick diplomatically puts it, "blighted." Paul says his house even was occupied by a drug dealer.
During the 30 years since then, many of the grand homes have been restored to their former glory in the neighborhood, which has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and now is known as the Old Northside Historic District.
Join us for an encore broadcast of a show about the colorful heritage of the neighborhood that's roughly bounded by East 11th, Pennsylvania, East 16th and Carrollton streets. Paul Smith and Rick Patton are Nelson's guests on the show, which originally was broadcast on Jan. 7, 2012.
During the decades that the Old Northside struggled, many of the once-fashionable homes (Rick estimates more than 100) were demolished. Others, including his, were converted into apartments.
By the way, Rick's home was built in 1876 by the son-in-law of civic leader Ovid Butler, a founder of the university that now bears his name. In fact, the Old Northside was the initial site of Butler University, then known as North Western Christian University.
(Fun fact: College Avenue derives its name because that street led to the university, which moved to Irvington during the 1870s. Butler moved, yet again, to its current location in the 1920s.)
Paul Smith, whose house was built in 1892, is a past president of the Old Northside Neighborhood Association and a past board member of Indiana Landmarks, the statewide historic preservation organization. (In 2011, Landmarks itself became an Old Northside "resident" by moving its headquarters into the former Central Avenue University Methodist Church, later known as the Old Centrum.)
Preservation advocates from across the country - including architects, civic leaders, attorneys, historians and federal officials - toured the Old Northside during last month's conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Most of the Old Northside's historic homes were built between the 1870s and the early 1900s. Before the Civil War, property in what became the Old Northside was regarded as too far away from the bustling Mile Square to be developed for homes.
That changed with the coming of horse-drawn trolleys and the extension of city streets. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, influential residents included Benjamin Harrison (his Italianate home, now known as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, is at 12th and Delaware streets); the Ayres and Wasson families of department store fame (their historic mansions were demolished), novelist Meredith Nicholson, author of the bestselling romance thriller House of 1,000 Candles, and Thomas Taggart, the former mayor who bought the French Lick Springs Hotel.
The Old Northside also includes the restored Morris-Butler House, which was built in 1865 and is owned now by Indiana Landmarks. And it includes a Romanesque Revival house built in the 1890s at 1410 N. Delaware owned by the Propylaeum Historic Foundation.
Why were so many homes demolished in the Old Northside? Many, including the mansions of the Ayres and Wasson families, came down during the 1960s and early '70s with the construction of I-65, which cuts through the neighborhood. Other homes were demolished as part of "urban renewal."
Along with spectacular renovations of many historic homes in recent years, new-home construction has occurred, particularly on the east edge of the neighborhood near College Avenue.
As Old Northside residents for more than 30 years - Paul and Rick arrived with their wives shortly after graduating from college - our guests have insights about the changes they have seen in the neighborhood. Paul is real estate manager for the city of Indianapolis; Rick is an executive for a textbook publisher.
As Rick notes with pride, the Old Northside today resembles the neighborhood depicted in historic photographs much more than the "blighted" residential area he encountered as a newlywed.
Interviewing tips for family, church and neighborhood histories
And folks who want to put together histories of their churches, neighborhoods or civic groups also will benefit from tips for getting people to "open up" and share memories, including those that touch on sensitive or painful topics.
To provide techniques and tips for the broad range of our listeners, Hoosier History Live! turns to three veteran interviewers.
They include our host, Nelson, who frequently teaches classes (sometimes called "Making People Talk") for the general public based on his years of interviewing everyone from acrobats to zoo veterinarians - as well as folks in their 80s and 90s who have lived through dozens of historic events.
Nelson, a former feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis Star, is joined in studio by:
Nelson and his guests share tips about their favorite interview questions (and ones that are the least effective in getting people to open up); how to extract decades-old details from interview subjects, and ideal settings for interviews.
In addition, Nelson discusses the importance of asking about sensitive issues (such as a parent's alcoholism or a family tragedy) when doing a family history interview. He shares non-threatening ways to ask questions about painful episodes.
Allen shares suggestions about phrasing questions so they are posed in neutral ways that don't influence interview subjects. When he has trained Howard County residents for oral history projects, Allen has used this example of a leading question:
Instead, he recommends: "How would you describe management's attitude toward the workers?"
For in-depth interviews, both Allen and Nelson strongly recommend one-on-one sessions, without observers such as spouses, managers and friends - even if the third parties promise to stay silent. (In fact, Nelson is convinced that silent onlookers pose special problems. He will explain why during our show.)
For his various biographies, our guest Ray Boomhower has interviewed Hoosiers ranging from a World War II-era flying ace from northwest Indiana (Alex Vraciu was the focus of his book, Fighter Pilot, which was published in 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society Press) to political leaders such as the late U.S. Congressman Jim Jontz, the subject of The People's Choice (IHS Press, 2012).
With more than 70 other authors with Indiana connections, Ray and Nelson will sign copies of the books about famous Hoosiers from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7 during the annual Holiday Author Fair at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.
But both of our guests, like Nelson, have interviewed countless Hoosiers who never made headlines.
Even so, who doesn’t have at least some captivating stories to tell? Tune in for practical advice that will help anyone interested in capturing vivid memories that will add depth and details to histories of families, neighborhoods, churches and civic groups.
Here are some advice books recommended by Nelson, who has taught interviewing classes for the Indiana Writers Center and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis:
Roadtrip: Eight holiday open houses across Indiana
Eight historic homes will be dressed up for the holidays, and admittance is free for Indiana Landmarks members and their guests. Chris tells us that this is a chance to see some excellent examples of preservation and restoration inside homes not that are not normally open to the public.
Many of the homes are ones have been saved from the Top Ten Endangered List, and others have long held a great significance to their community.
Here is a line-up for this year's Holiday Open Houses.
Chris tells us that Indiana Landmarks has been working to save meaningful places for more than 53 years.
Kokomo, where our guest Allen Safianow has been a history professor and has overseen oral interviewing projects, has a claim to fame in taxidermy. The largest preserved example in the world of a certain kind of animal is displayed in Kokomo.
The animal lived during the early 1900s and set a record for his size that still stands today. The stuffed, mounted figure of the animal stands in a pavilion in Highland Park. The park in Kokomo also is the home of the world's largest Sycamore tree stump.
Question: The world's largest example of what kind of animal is displayed in Kokomo?
The prize is a gift certificate to Iozzo's Garden of Italy, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air.
The Nov. 16 show answer: BARBARA BOYD. The well-known TV news personality had been the office manager of Head Start in Indianapolis before being hired as a consumer reporter at Channel 6 in 1969. From 1981 to 1984, Barbara Boyd anchored the noon news, becoming the first African-American woman to anchor a TV news broadcast in Indianapolis.
Still highly visible as a civic leader since retiring from TV news in 1994, Barbara Boyd joined Nelson in February 2008 for a Hoosier History Live! show about her trail-blazing career in local television.
Cafeterias across Indiana
Click here to listen to this encore broadcast!
(Nov. 23, 2013 - online-only encore presentation) - Hoosier History Live! will be pre-empted Saturday on WICR-FM so the radio station can broadcast live coverage of the University of Indianapolis football team's playoff game. Even though you won't be able to tune in and listen to us over the airwaves, as a special treat we are making available - on our website and by clicking on a link embedded in this e-newsletter - one of the most popular programs from our Hoosier History Live! archives.
The featured program is a perfect show for a season known for its focus on food. Rather than feast on Thanksgiving turkey, though, we dig into our state's cafeteria culture in a show originally broadcast on Oct. 27, 2012.
Unaware that Indiana was famous for its cafeterias?
Well, think how many have flourished for generations of hungry Hoosiers. Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville has received national acclaim for its fresh-made rolls, fried chicken and old-fashioned pies. Indiana-based MCL Cafeterias is described in Tray Chic: Celebrating Indiana’s Cafeteria Culture (Emmis Books, 2004) as "arguably the largest family-owned cafeteria chain in the nation."
Poe's Cafeteria in Martinsville is cherished by devotees of its persimmon pudding, gooseberry pie and other scrumptious fare.
And Shapiro's Delicatessen has been a landmark in downtown Indy for more than 100 years, although fourth-generation owner Brian Shapiro has been quoted as saying he dislikes the term "cafeteria."
Even so, all of those beloved cafeterias (and a platter of others) are featured in Tray Chic, and its author is among Nelson's in-studio guests. He is Indianapolis-based writer Sam Stall, who also pens a question-and-answer column in Indianapolis Monthly magazine called "The Hoosierist."
In addition to Sam, Nelson is joined on our exploration of cafeteria culture by a culinary queen who is well-known among Hoosier foodies. Daina Chamness of Greenwood has carved out a long career, thanks to her work both in broadcasting and in the kitchen. Now known for Yours Truly Foods, her wine cake mixes, Daina formerly specialized in single-serving pies of all varieties.
Speaking of pies: As part of our cafeteria conversation, Nelson and his guests discuss sugar cream pie, which has been designated Indiana's "official state pie." It's relevant to our topic because Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood and other cafeterias are among the few eateries that regularly serve it. (Sugar cream pie also was the focus of a "Hoosierist" column by Sam last year.)
In Tray Chic, Sam describes the sprawling Jonathan Byrd's as the cafeteria version of an "epic, Cecil B. De Mille-style scale" production.
Noting that cafeterias have long been hailed for their comfort food, Sam writes: "Some would say that the long view down the tray line is what heaven looks like."
According to Tray Chic, though, cafeterias are vanishing in many parts of the country.
"Today, they're as state-of-the-art as a brontosaurus, and almost as rare - unless you live in Indiana," Sam writes. In the Hoosier state, he explains, cafeterias are "culinary landmarks."
The former Laughner's Cafeteria chain, which traced its beginnings to a storefront restaurant in 1900 in downtown Indy, opened the state's first cafeteria and was on the cutting edge of "food service technology," according to Tray Chic.
Expansion of the Laughner's chain included the 1964 opening in Southern Plaza shopping center of a cafeteria in a structure that, as Tray Chic puts it, resembled a "big, Tudor-style house." In 1987, the chain opened a Laughner's Super Cafeteria on the far northside of Indy. After about 100 years in operation, though, the last Laughner's closed in 2000.
The MCL chain, however, has survived with signature fare, including cloverleaf rolls, carved roast beef, Swiss steak and Irani iced tea. According to Reid Duffy's Guide to Indiana's Favorite Restaurants (IU Press, 2006), the chain resulted from a business relationship between co-founder Charles McGaughey and George Laughner, a son of the Laughner's founder. (The "L" in MCL stands for Laughner.)
By 2006, the MCL chain had more than 20 cafeterias, including restaurants in Anderson, Bloomington, Muncie, Richmond, Speedway, Terre Haute and West Lafayette.
In Mooresville, Gray Brothers seats 500 and often feeds 3,000 patrons per day, according to Tray Chic. With homemade dishes that have won praise from national food critics, Gray Brothers has been a landmark on State Road 67 since the late 1960s.
Shapiro's roots go back much farther. In 1905, two years after immigrating from Russia because of anti-Jewish pogroms, Louis and Rebecca Shapiro opened a kosher grocery shop on what's now the south side of downtown Indy, according to Reid Duffy's book.
The transition to a restaurant - with cafeteria-style lines - began in the 1930s when Louis delegated the store to his sons Abe, Izzy and Max.
And about 120 years before that, hundreds of Quakers from North Carolina traveled to Indiana to settle. Our guest Daina Chamness noted during a previous show (that also featured Reid Duffy as a guest) that sugar cream pie may have its origins in a dessert made by Quaker farm wives.
Speaking of farms: In Tray Chic, Sam writes that, for Hoosiers, cafeterias often conjure up "ancestral memories of old-fashioned farm dinners, or fond reflections of Sunday after-church suppers at Grandma's."
Typically, he notes, cafeterias serve fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pecan pies and "pretty much anything else that farm wives set out for their families 150 years ago."
Some fun facts:
Click here to listen to this encore broadcast!
Roadtrip: 25 Weird and Wonderful tour
Guest Roadtripper and Hoosier History Live! fan Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who listens to the show every week via WICR Online, tells us to check out 25 different real Roadtrips, all highlighted under one roof, and taking up two huge gallery areas.
It's the 25 Weird and Wonderful tour at Minnetrista in Muncie, Ind. Turns out the Minnetrista staff queried lots of Hoosiers about 25 awesome places to visit in east central Indiana. It runs now through March 30.
From famous ice cream shops to glass blowing to the world's largest ball of paint, east central Indiana has it all and much more! Terri tells us that you can explore 25 of the region's best-kept secrets in one intriguing exhibit at Minnetrista, and then visit each location itself.
In the news
IBJ covers Hoosier History Live!
Reporter Chris O'Malley of the Indianapolis Business Journal sat in on a recent program and shared some of the unique ambition and charm of Hoosier History Live! with IBJ's readers.
Ask Nelson and Channel 4 children's shows history
(Nov. 16, 2013) - Once in awhile, we like to take full advantage of our claim to distinction at Hoosier History Live!: Our show is the country's only live radio program with listener call-in about a state's history.
That means we can turn the tables periodically on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer, who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."
During our "Ask Nelson" shows, listeners are encouraged to call the WICR-FM studio and pose questions to Nelson, whose areas of expertise are famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary people) and Indianapolis city history. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.
On this show, Nelson is joined by a special co-host who joins the questioning - and also takes questions from listeners. His co-host is author Julie Young, whose newest book is The Famous Faces of Indy's WTTV-4 (The History Press). It explores the lives, careers and impact on Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and other Hoosiers of TV personalities during the heyday of children's programming on WTTV-Channel 4.
Those personalities include some - such as Janie Hodge, the popular star of the long-running "Popeye and Janie" (the show was later renamed "Janie") and Cowboy Bob (real name: Bob Glaze) - who have been guests on previous Hoosier History Live! shows.
Julie's book also explores the lives and careers of ghoulish Sammy Terry, the host of the cult favorite "Shock Theater," which also had other names, including "Nightmare Theater" and "The Sammy Terry Show," during its various incarnations) and Peggy Nicholson, the host of a children's show in the 1970s on Channel 4.
Sammy Terry (real name: Bob Carter) died last June at age 83; his son, Mark Carter, now makes appearances as Sammy Terry, a name that, when spoken quickly, is a riff on the word "cemetery."
So with Julie's expertise about, as her book puts it, "a pre-cable era when shows were live, hosts were local celebrities and anything could happen," she is an ideal co-host for Nelson, with his expertise about famous Hoosiers.
His book Indiana Legends, now in its 4th edition and 7th printing, features profiles and vignettes of more than notables. He has interviewed - often several times - contemporary-era famous Hoosiers such as David Letterman, Jane Pauley, Larry Bird, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Ryan White, Reggie Miller, Florence Henderson, astronaut David Wolf and Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of the University of Norte Dame.
He also has researched the colorful lives of historic notables such as bank robber John Dillinger, composers Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael, entrepreneurs Col. Eli Lilly and Madam Walker, novelists Lew Wallace and Booth Tarkington and movie star Carole Lombard.
Nelson welcomes questions during our show about any of these famous (or, in a couple of cases, infamous) Hoosiers, as Julie does about any of the Channel 4 personalities.
During our show, Nelson and Julie also interview each other. Nelson asks his co-host how and why WTTV, which went on the air in November 1949 as only the second TV station in the state, carved out a niche in offering children's programming. (According to Julie's book, the first TV station on the air in Indiana was Indianapolis-based WFBM, which is known today as WRTV-Channel 6.)
In addition, Nelson welcomes questions related to city history of the Hoosier capital. His book Indianapolis Then and Now explores sites such as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Garfield Park, Fort Harrison (now Fort Harrison State Park) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It also features neighborhoods with colorful histories such as Lockerbie, Woodruff Place and Broad Ripple.
By the way, his co-host on this "Ask Nelson" show has been a frequent guest on Hoosier History Live! in connection with her other books. In addition to writing The Famous Faces of Indy's WTTV-4, Julie Young is the author of books about the histories of Shelby County and the eastside of Indy. In fact, Nelson, who grew up on the far-eastside, is quoted in Eastside Indianapolis: A Brief History (The History Press, 2009).
Julie also is the author of A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007), a biography of the first Hoosier to be named a saint. Mother Theodore, as she was known during her lifetime (1798-1856), also is featured in Nelson's Indiana Legends; she was a Catholic nun who traveled from France to the wilderness of far-western Indiana in 1840. As a pioneer, she founded schools, orphanages and frontier versions of pharmacies. So both Julie and Nelson welcome questions about her remarkable life.
Earlier this year, shows with the "Ask Nelson" format have featured, as co-hosts, Indianapolis-based event planner Gary BraVard and our WICR colleague, attorney Charles Braun, whose Legally Speaking radio show is celebrating its 30th year on the air. During the show with Gary, he shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes about galas that he planned in the Hoosier capital attended by a range of visiting celebrities.
A caller asked Nelson about early French immigrants to the Indiana frontier, including the fur traders who founded Vincennes, our oldest city. Another caller shared memories about the construction of I-465 and I-70 during the late 1960s and early '70s.
And yet another caller asked about the law school years of Dan Quayle. The former vice president also is among the scores of well-known Hoosiers whom Nelson has interviewed.
We always look forward to these lively, insightful shows - with your phone calls as the centerpiece.
Fun fact: Julie and Nelson will be among more than 70 authors who will sign books during the Indiana Author Fair from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7. The annual fair will be at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis.
Roadtrip: Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski
Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that late fall is the time for the annual pilgrimage to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area (just north of Medaryville off 421) to see the sandhill cranes.
The sight of thousands of these amazing birds flying in from all directions - with their unique bugling cries, then landing, gabbling and dancing in Goose Meadow - is a wonderful experience.
She says to plan to arrive about an hour before sunset to see them come in. Glory recommends trying to go up on a weekday when the crowds are smaller; hearing the cranes is a vital part of the experience, and she reports being recently annoyed by many people babbling about shopping bargains and such. In fact, she wanted to hear those magnificent sounds! (Perhaps those same people talk in movies and at concerts.)
She says if you're heading up from the south, you’ll go up State Road 43 north from Lafayette and continue straight north on US 421. Passing through Brookston, a few miles north of Lafayette, you may want to check out Two Cookin' Sisters/Prairie Street Market for Grannie's Garden Pumpkin Butter and such.
Hungry? Reme's Monon Family Restaurant (in Monon, of course) offers a huge menu of classic family cafe fare. They're open late enough that you can catch them on the way back as well.
For something quick but tasty, on the north side of Monon is The Viking, locally owned - always Glory's preference.
Farther north of Monon is what could be a destination stop in itself - you might want to head up early to check this out. They, too, are open late enough to catch on the way back. It's the Whistle Stop Restaurant and Monon Connection Museum.
Happy crane watching and good eating - and tell everyone that Hoosier History Live! sent you.
In addition to Janie and Cowboy Bob, popular former TV personalities who have been studio guests on Hoosier History Live! include the first African-American woman to be a TV news reporter in Indianapolis. That happened in 1969 on WRTV-Channel 6, which then was WFBM-TV.
A consumer reporter, she went on to become the first African-American woman to anchor a TV news show in Indianapolis. She drew widespread attention in 1973 when, after learning she had breast cancer, she broadcast a report about her mastectomy from her hospital bed. In 1994, she retired after a 25-year career at Channel 6.
Question: Who is she?
By the way, Anna of Indianapolis just won a prize on our Facebook page, so be sure to check us out there as well!
Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air.
The Nov. 9 show answer: SCHUYLER COLFAX, who served as vice president with President Ulysses S. Grant.
A native of New York City, Colfax moved with his family to northern Indiana at age 13 in the 1830s. Ambitious and gregarious, he advanced through Indiana politics as a Republican and, beginning in 1855, was elected to the U.S. Congress. Colfax served as Speaker of the House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who became a close friend.
His term as vice president was from 1869 to 1873. Colfax died in 1885 and is buried in City Cemetery in South Bend.
The other three deceased vice presidents from Indiana - Thomas Hendricks, Thomas R. Marshall and Charles Fairbanks - are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.
By the way, Judy from our Irvington Library Listening Group won the prize! So check out that group every Saturday during the live show at the Irvington Library, 5625 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis.
Brazilian immigration with artist Artur Silva
(Nov. 2, 2013 - encore presentation) - Join us for an encore broadcast of a program in our popular series about our ethnic heritage in Indiana. For this show about Brazilian immigration, Nelson's guest is Indianapolis-based artist, clothing designer and cultural organizer Artur Silva, one of several immigrants and visitors from his South American homeland who have been creating a splash on Hoosier soil. (The show's original air date was June 11, 2011 and is a half-hour program. The last half hour in our usual time slot has been pre-empted for U of I football.)
A recipient of the prestigious Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship in 2010-11 and, more recently, of a creative renewal fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Artur moved to Indy in 2001 after a few years in New York City.
He has helped organize Indy Brazilian Carnaval, a festive celebration that has become an annual event in the Hoosier capital. His artwork has been exhibited at the Harrison Center for the Arts, the Indianapolis International Airport and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. It also has been exhibited in galleries from Chicago and Los Angeles to the Netherlands and Brazil.
Artur, 37, is a native of Belo Horizonte City (translation: "beautiful horizon"), a city in southeastern Brazil that is surrounded by mountains. During our show, Artur discusses the wide range of reasons that native Brazilians have chosen to settle in Indiana.
Some fun facts:
One more item: Here is video of Artur talking about art at the Alexander Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
Environmental heritage across Indiana
(Oct. 26, 2013) - The way history has unfolded, maybe we should call this show "the good, the bad and the ugly."
Early settlers in Indiana and subsequent generations clear-cut the dense, unbroken forest of towering trees that had dominated the Hoosier landscape, resulting in soil erosion and other significant challenges.
White River in the Indianapolis area has been substantially cleaned up, particularly when contrasted with its previous reputation as a dumping ground and a punch line for jokes. Many experts, though, consider the Grand Calumet River in northwestern Indiana still to be among the top 10 dirtiest in the country.
New hotels, businesses and buildings on university campuses in Indiana are winning acclaim for their energy-saving features. Concerns are increasing, though, about factory farms and their impact on nearby communities and havens such as Camp Tecumseh, a retreat near Monticello that has been beloved by generations of Hoosier youth.
To explore the state's environmental heritage, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests from the Hoosier Environmental Council, a non-profit that is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
The HEC, which describes itself as a "science-based advocacy organization dedicated to protecting Indiana's environment," will host one of the state's largest gatherings of environmentalists on Nov. 16 on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
Nelson's guests are:
"A lot of what we're worried about today results from actions taken decades ago and generations ago," Jesse Kharbanda says, referring to what he and others call "legacy waste."
He also says: "Everyone cares about nature. They just care about different facets of it, in different ways, with different approaches to dealing with problems."
Specific areas of concern include Blackford County in northeastern Indiana, the site of several abandoned industrial complexes and former factories.
According to several accounts, the county and its county seat, Hartford City, have some of the highest levels of cancer, per person, in the state. The HEC launched a task force to coordinate investigations into the health issues and pollutants in the region, which once was home to automobile, gas, glass and chemical companies. In recent years, local residents have formed Blackford County Concerned Citizens, a grassroots organization that crusades for, as they put it, a "healthier and stronger future."
For the HEC, a galvanizing crusade after the organization was founded in 1983 involved attempts to stop expanded gas and oil leasing in parts of the Hoosier National Forest. The forest had been recreated by the CCC in the 1930s because extensive clear-cutting in Brown County and elsewhere in southern Indiana was causing significant environmental problems.
Our guest Tim Maloney, who was involved with the statewide campaign to protect the Hoosier National Forrest, shares details about how it unfolded. He also shares insights about various rivers in Indiana, including the White River and the Grand Calumet.
"We have a mixed record in Indiana," he says. "Throughout our history, we turned our backs on most of our waterways for many years. We saw them as sewers, with the result that they became badly contaminated."
Since moving to the Hoosier state, Jesse, 36, has helped lead a collaboration with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce on pending legislation regarding public transit. In 2011, he was named by the Indianapolis Business Journal to its "40 Under 40" roster of rising young executives.
Here are some learn-more websites:
Roadtrip - You Are There 1904: Picture This!
Guest Roadtripper Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society suggests that you be one of the first to see You Are There 1904: Picture This!, which opens Oct. 29. She says visitors can step into the studio of photographer Charles Miner, who is busy conducting a normal day's business taking portraits of his Fort Wayne neighbors in 1904.
The Columbia City native turned Fort Wayne resident enjoyed a thriving business in the heart of Fort Wayne's downtown, where he participated in monumental moments in the lives of others.
Guests may also meet Miner's cousin/office manager, his technical assistant, or some Fort Wayne residents who may have visited the studio. And yes, Charles Miner really will take your photograph!
Amy also invites you to visit the IHS website after your visit to download your picture, play with the custom-made software, and morph your image into a vintage photograph to share with your friends and family.
The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center is located at 450 W. Ohio Street in downtown Indianapolis.
During the 1970s, an Indianapolis-based radio station drew widespread attention - and even astonishment - for sponsoring an annual raft race on the White River, then considered far from pristine. Popular among young listeners for playing a wide range of rock music, the radio station organized the raft race on a 2.5-mile section of the White River near the Broad Ripple area.
About 8,000 rafters each year participated in the race, which drew nearly 30,000 spectators to Broad Ripple Park and other areas along the course on the murky White River in the 1970s.
Question: What were the call letters of the radio station?
The prize is a voucher for two tickets to an Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra 2013-14 Masterworks Concert (includes The Messiah as a choice), courtesy of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, where you can experience the new Picture This:1904 exhibit, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Thanks to all of our wonderful prize partners, including the stalwart Visit Indy, and also to our own Nelson Price, who seems to have a never-ending wealth of ideas for this contest.
Last week's answer
By request, we are publishing the answer to last week's History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Oct. 19 History Mystery answer is: REV. JACQUELINE MEANS.
The issue of ordaining women as priests was highly controversial among Episcopalians during the 1970s. Some protesters gathered in front of All Saints, 1559 Central Ave., on New Year's Day 1977 when Jacqueline Means was ordained as the first woman Episcopal priest.
In the decades since her ordination, Rev. Means served for several years as the parish priest at St. Mark Episcopal Church in Plainfield and continued her work as a prison chaplain, including at the Indiana Women's Prison. She also served in administrative capacities with the Episcopalian Church's prison ministries.
Preservation at the Crossroads kicks off Oct. 29 in Indy
Susan West Montgomery, a senior director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., will do a special call-in to the show to tell us about the trust's upcoming annual conference, which runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 in Indianapolis and nearby locales.
She'll tell us a bit about why the "Crossroads of America" is historically significant on a national level, and she will mention a couple of conference highlights.
Sweet tweets from Allison, and more
Hoosier History Live wishes to thank Allison DePrey Singleton for being our official Tweeter. Allison told us that we needed to be on Twitter, and producer Molly said, "I can't add one more thing to my list; would you like to do it?"
Spreading the duties out is a beautiful thing.
Oh, and Allison also can teach you how to trace your ancestry.
As you may know, we enjoy taking our show guests out to lunch on Saturdays after the show if schedules allow. Many of our guests have traveled quite a distance! We have a new sponsorship arrangement with Fountain Square Theatre Building that makes dining at one of its restaurants possible. And it's just a straight shot up Shelby Street from the UIndy campus! Our guests also get to see a bit of the evolving Fountain Square area.
We'd also like to thank some of our 2013 contributors, Julie Slaymaker and Jane "Janie" Hodge of Indianapolis and Ann Allen of Akron, Ind. You can help to defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software, our editing costs, etc. by simply clicking on the yellow "Donate" button on our website. If you would like your contribution to be tax-deductible, visit the "Support us" page on our website. Your support helps us to remain and the air, on the Web and in your inbox.
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.
By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream on Saturdays. We do have listeners all over the world!
If you need any advice on how to get started, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better yet, just go ahead and get started! A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business, and we will promote your group in our enewsletter. Also, this is a great warm and cozy winter activity. Coffee anyone?
Rabbi Sandy Sasso, pioneer for women clergy
(Oct. 19, 2013) - Nearly 40 years ago, she was ordained as the country's first woman rabbi from the Jewish Reconstructionist movement. When Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and her husband, Dennis Sasso, were hired at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis in 1977, they also became the world's first husband-and-wife rabbi team to serve a congregation jointly.
Earlier this year, Sandy Sasso retired as senior rabbi at the synagogue, but her career continues as an author of best-selling books for children, a civic leader and a speaker known for her storytelling gifts.
When Sandy became a rabbi in 1974, only one other American woman, from a different Jewish movement, had been ordained.
Her children's books - beginning with God's Paintbrush (Jewish Lights Publishing) in 1994 - are sold around the world and have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and other languages. She says she became an author after she could not find faith-oriented books for her son and daughter when they were children.
Now a grandmother, Sandy Sasso joins Nelson in studio for a show about her trailblazing career and multifaceted life as one of the best-known women in central Indiana.
"I read of men's struggles with God, but not women's," Sandy is quoted as saying in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press, 2009), a book of profiles by Michael S. Maurer. "No one was answering my questions. In fact, no one was asking them."
She was referring to her growing interest in becoming a rabbi during her youth in Philadelphia, her home town. Sandy and Dennis Sasso were both just 31 years old when they were chosen to lead Beth-El Zedeck, 600 W. 70th St., and made history.
Sandy went on to earn a doctorate from Christian Theological Seminary and has received honorary doctorates from several Indiana colleges.
Since her ordination, women rabbis are no longer unusual. A total of more than 700 women across the country currently serve as rabbis from the various streams of Judaism, according to an article in The Indianapolis Star when Sandy retired at Beth-El Zedeck. (In Orthodox Judaism, women are not ordained.)
Her newest book, Creation's First Light, has just been published. An illustrated description of the Earth's creation that's inspired by the biblical chapter of Genesis, Creation's First Light been called "a perfect jewel of a book" by another distinguished Hoosier History Live! guest who also is an ordained member of the clergy: Quaker pastor and author Phil Gulley. (Known for his folksy stories about a fictional town that resembles his hometown of Danville, Phil was Nelson's guest for a show last May.)
Her other books for children - many of which cover religious issues in a non-denominational way - include God Said Amen, For Heaven's Sake, Noah's Wife and In God's Name, which invites young readers to come up with their own names for God based on what they value most. Sandy's adult books include Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks.
She met her husband, Dennis, who was born in Panama, when they were seminary students. Neither of the Sassos knew much about Indy when they moved to the Hoosier capital for what turned into 36 years of serving together at Beth-El Zedeck.
"I have come to care deeply about the future of Indianapolis, its problems, and its vision for overcoming them," Sandy wrote earlier this year in an account for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. "There are matters that require attention: hunger, healthcare, transportation, education, caring for those who are marginalized. But there are also people who are trying to create change, who fashion venues for civil conversation, who believe that diversity enriches us, that culture is good for the soul and for business."
Her civic endeavors include serving for three years as the board chair for the Spirit & Place Festival, the annual collaboration in November that celebrates the arts, culture and spirituality.
History nugget: In 2002, Sandy was the editor of Urban Tapestry: Indianapolis Stories (IU Press), a collection of insights and essays about the Hoosier capital. Contributing writers included our host, Nelson.
Learn more: Sandy Sasso has just launched a new website, www.allaboutand.com.
Roadtrip: Duckpin bowling in Fountain Square
Guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard suggests we take the Roadtrip to play a little duckpin bowling (like regular bowling but everything is smaller!) in the Fountain Square Theatre Building. That's at the intersection of Virginia Avenue at Shelby and Prospect Streets just southeast of downtown Indianapolis.
And yes, Fountain Square has a replica of its original 1880 fountain, "Lady Spray," back squarely in the square! The statue "Pioneer Family," which had occupied the square for some time, was moved just across the street.
Fountain Square continues to grow as a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood; it grew up around the end of the old Virginia Avenue streetcar line.
But Roadtripper Gary suggests you try a little duckpin bowling at the Fountain Square Theatre Building. The building sports two bowling facilities, Action Duckpin Bowl on the fourth floor and Atomic Bowl Duckpin in the basement.
Building owner Linton Calvert said he started collecting pieces of old duckpin bowling facilities some 20 years ago, all across the country. He says that most of the pieces from the Action Duckpin Bowl on the fourth floor were harvested from a defunct facility in Columbia City, Ind. Tune in Saturday for more!
Amid controversy in 1977, an Indianapolis resident became the first woman ever ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Her ordination on New Year's Day at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Old Northside neighborhood drew national attention, including opposition from other Episcopal priests. Before her ordination, the trail-blazing priest had worked as a licensed practical nurse and as a prison chaplain.
Question: Name the Episcopalian priest whose ordination made headlines in 1977.
The prize is admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurants, and two passes to the Crown Hill Cemetery public tours, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Last week's answer
By request, we are publishing the answer to last week's History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Oct. 12 History Mystery answer is: GEORGE McGINNIS.
In 1969, many sports analysts considered him the best high school athlete in the country because of his basketball exploits at Washington High School. He propelled the team to an unbeaten season, then drew headlines with a 35-point scoring "eruption" during the state championship game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
After leading the Big Ten in scoring at Indiana University, McGinnis - who, at six-feet-eight, became known as "Big Mac" - thrilled fans of the Indiana Pacers. He played for the Pacers for four seasons (1972-75), before leaving to play for teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, then returned to the Pacers in 1979.
Since retiring as a player three years later, George McGinnis has remained in the public eye as an Indianapolis-based business executive and, for many years, a TV and radio sportscaster.
Coliseum and Clowes Hall histories
(Oct. 12, 2013) - The Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds - site of some of the most joyous and colorful events in Indy history, as well as some of the most tragic episodes - is undergoing a $63 million renovation.
What better time to explore the histories of these two landmark venues?
Chapters in their stories include concerts in 1964 by the Beatles; an explosion during an ice show on Halloween night in 1963 that remains among the most massive tragedies in state history; performances by household names ranging from Bob Hope, Judy Garland and Liberace to the Bolshoi, and public speakers including Coretta Scott King, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Indy native Kurt Vonnegut.
To explore the events, crises, celebrations and backstage stories that have unfolded at the Coliseum and Clowes, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests. They are Justin Armstrong, director of advancement at the Indiana State Fair Foundation, James Cramer, community relations manager at Clowes, and Christine Thacker, the Clowes archivist.
The Coliseum, which opened in the fall of 1939, was constructed under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Public Works Administration. Its 11,000 seating capacity made the Coliseum the largest event facility in Indy then.
Three years later, the venue hosted its first basketball game, during which the Indiana High School All-Stars defeated the Kentucky High School All-Stars by one point. In 1967, the Coliseum became the home court of the Indiana Pacers, then playing in (and, eventually, three-time champions of) the American Basketball Association.
According to guests James and Christine, the opening of Clowes was a "huge gamble - they bet the farm." But the venue went on to host appearances by Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, John Travolta and other entertainers who either were (or became) icons.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Clowes, artwork by Hoosiers will be displayed as part on an on-going "mosaic of visual art" throughout the 2013-14 season. The public is invited to a free open house and mosaic unveiling on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. For more info about other 50th-anniversary festivities, visit cloweshall.org.
At the renovated Coliseum, which is scheduled to reopen next summer, the Art Deco exterior is being restored. The new interior will include double-tiered seating, a new video scoreboard and a modern sound system.
If the Coliseum endured wear and tear over the decades, it shouldn't be a shocker, given some of the events that were staged in the venue. In 1974, the Coliseum was the setting for the first - and largest - indoor tractor pull in the country.
Longtime listeners of Hoosier History Live! will recall that we explored the 1963 Holiday on Ice explosion at the Coliseum during a show in October 2008 with Lawrence "Bo" Connor, a retired managing editor of The Indianapolis Star. He reported from the scene of the tragedy, during which 74 people were killed and about 400 more were injured.
And during another show, we delved into the Beatles appearances with two guests who, as ardent teenage fans of the wildly popular "Fab Four," attended their 1964 concerts at the Coliseum. Both guests recalled they could not "hear a note of music" because of the screaming teens.
Both the Beatles concerts and the tragic explosion will be explored during our upcoming show. A plaque near the Coliseum's main doors memorializes the victims of the explosion, which occurred 50 years ago this month. Propane - being used to keep popcorn warm - leaked from a faulty valve into an unventilated room beneath the grandstands. The blast hurled a 50-foot section of spectators, chairs and concrete into the air and on the ice.
That same year of 1963, Clowes Hall opened. Built for $3.5 million and designed by a partnership that included Indianapolis architect Evans Woollen, the performing arts hall became the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. (The orchestra moved to Circle Theatre on Monument Circle in 1984 following a major renovation of what is now known as the Hilbert Circle Theatre.) As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the symphony will return to Clowes with a Pixar in Concert performance on Oct. 27.
As the venue for productions ranging from touring Broadway shows to ballet, opera and pop concerts by the likes of Duke Ellington, Big Bird and the Four Tops, Clowes Hall "ushered in a new era in the city's cultural history," as the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis puts it.
According to a recent Indianapolis Monthly article, the Clowes staff arranged for a Rolls Royce to shuttle opening weekend performer Bob Hope. But the famous comedian was a spokesman for Chrysler and could not be seen in any other vehicle, according to an anecdote that the magazine attributes to our guest Christine Thacker. During our show, Nelson has Christine explain how the awkward situation unfolded.
We also will explore behind-the-scenes stories associated with the Coliseum, which has been a home of Indy's various pro hockey teams since it opened. Currently, it is the home of the Indiana Ice of the U.S. Hockey League.
During their colorful "ABA years" at the Coliseum, the Pacers won national championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973; they became the most successful team in the history of the former league, which played with red, white and blue balls. Coached by Terre Haute native Bobby "Slick" Leonard, the Pacers captivated crowds at the Coliseum until 1974, when Market Square Arena replaced it as the team's home.
The massive renovation of the Coliseum that's currently underway began in October 2012. Part of the project, the new Youth Arena ice rink, opened this week. After the fully renovated Coliseum reopens next August, it is expected to host everything from major livestock shows and the concert series during the Indiana State Fair to high school graduation ceremonies and touring national concerts.
Roadtrip: Crispus Attucks Museum in Indianapolis
Guest Roadtripper is Kisha Tandy of the Indiana State Museum, who suggests that we take the Roadtrip to the Indianapolis Public Schools Crispus Attucks Museum, located at Attucks High School in downtown Indianapolis.
The Crispus Attucks Museum is located at 1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. on the newly renovated campus of the historic Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School.
The museum is filled with historic treasures that date back to the late 19th-century African American experience in Indianapolis, and particularly that of the first all-black high school in the state of Indiana.
During the American Basketball Association era, when the Indiana Pacers began thrilling spectators at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, a future star on the team was causing a sensation at the high school level.
Born in Indianapolis, he led a local high school team to an unbeaten season and the state championship before being named "Mr. Basketball" of 1969 by the Indianapolis Star.
He went on to hoops triumphs at Indiana University before becoming an outstanding pro player in the 1970s, beginning with the Indiana Pacers of the ABA. The hometown star eventually helped take the team to championship titles in the ABA league.
Question: Who is he?
Amish in Indiana
(Oct. 5, 2013) - Only two states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, have larger Amish populations than Indiana.
The 49,000 Amish residents here live in about 22 distinct communities scattered across the state, from Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana to settlements near the towns of Washington in southern Indiana, as well as Berne and Geneva in the northeast.
"What is it about the Amish that both enchants and perplexes us? ... Could a horse-and-buggy people be more satisfied than the rest of us, with all our modern conveniences?"
Those questions are posed in a new book whose co-author, Steven Nolt, a history professor at Goshen College, is Nelson's guest to explore all aspects of the "intensely private and insular" folks, who, as his latest book puts it, are "known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle and limited technology."
Steve's co-authors of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) are Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnston-Weiner. In addition, Steve is the author or co-author of several other books about the Amish and has collaborated on multiyear research projects about their religion, history and distinctive culture.
We explore aspects of the ever-increasing population of Amish (the average family has seven children), ranging from their values and schools to their shift from an almost exclusive focus on farming to jobs in factories and businesses such as the RV industry in the Elkhart area - even though the Amish do not own or drive motor vehicles.
According to The Amish, about two-thirds now support themselves in Amish-owned small businesses or by working in non-Amish factories and shops.
Steve also addresses misconceptions about the Amish, who recently have become, as his book puts it, "popular culture icons of tourism and reality TV shows, even as they have deftly learned to flourish in a digital world."
He points out that the Amish are not homogeneous. Some communities in Indiana include families who send their children to public schools until the eighth grade; children in other communities almost exclusively attend private schools. (In Adams County, our host Nelson recently was part of a group that visited a one-room Amish schoolhouse attended by students ranging from 6 to 15 years old, all instructed by a single, bearded teacher.)
Founded more than 300 years ago in Europe as an offshoot of the Anabaptist Christians, the Amish Church faced persecution. The first Amish settled in Pennsylvania during the 1730s. According to The Amish, many families headed west - including to Ohio and Indiana - during the 1800s because of rising land prices in the eastern United States.
In northern Indiana, the towns of Nappanee and Shipshewana- both with Amish communities that date to the 19th century - have been popular in recent decades for tourists and shoppers intrigued by products such as quilts and baked goods. The Amish typically refer to outsiders as, simply, "the English."
Steve also is the co-author of Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). That book documents how many Amish communities strived to remain pacifists and refused military service in the Civil War.
Voting patterns, though, often reflected those of their "English" neighbors. Amish in Holmes County, Ohio, which today has the country's largest concentration, tended to vote Democratic, the dominant political party in that region during the Civil War era. In LaGrange County, where the GOP dominated, Amish tended to vote Republican.
In The Amish, Steve and his co-authors explore Rumspringa (which translates as "running around"), the rite of passage when adventurous teenagers in many Amish communities enjoy the freedom to experiment with cultural influences before deciding whether to be baptized and officially join the church.
During our show, Steve and Nelson explore misconceptions about Rumspringa, which drew widespread attention in the late 1990s following a series of alcohol and drug arrests of "wilding" Amish teenagers.
Typically, Rumspringa ends with marriage, according to The Amish. Activities during the rite of passage vary widely among Amish communities, with many youth never engaging in mischief.
"In other communities, some youth own cars, hit the party scene and give their parents anxious nights."
Other insights, courtesy of Steve Nolt and The Amish:
Learn more: Watch the PBS documentary The Amish. Steve Nolt's new book is a companion to the PBS documentary, which is part of the American Experience series.
Roadtrip: Summit Lake State Park
Guest Roadtripper is Ken Marshall, an adjunct professor of communications and lifelong Indiana state park lover. He suggests we take the Roadtrip just a little north of New Castle to a hidden treasure, Summit Lake, which he says is never crowded.
The name "Summit Lake" comes from the fact that the area has the highest point of elevation in the immediate region. The area also has excellent fishing -and swimming, boating, hiking and camping - and it's also a great birding area.
Tune in on Saturday for more from Ken!
The Swiss heritage town of Berne in northeastern Indiana is located in Adams County, where some estimates indicate 12 percent of the population is Amish. In late July, Berne hosts a Swiss Days celebration that salutes its heritage. The town, which has about 4,000 residents, also includes Swiss Heritage Village, an outdoor museum.
In another region of Indiana, a town on the Ohio River also has a Swiss-themed festival. The 42nd annual Swiss Wine Festival was held during late August in the town, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The wine festival is a salute to a Swiss immigrant family whose vineyard in the fertile soil near the Ohio River began in the early 1800s.
Question: What is the Ohio River town that celebrates a Swiss Wine Festival?
Hint: The town, and the county in which it's located, were the focus of a recent Hoosier History Live! show.
The prize is a gift certificate to the Hard Rock Café in downtown Indianapolis, two tickets to GlowGolf, a miniature golf course across from the food court at Circle Centre mall in Indianapolis, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Glow Golf and Visit Indy.
Interurbans: Their rise and fall across Indiana
(Sept. 28, 2013) - With the fate of Amtrak service in Indiana making recent headlines, and mass transit always a hot topic, consider this:
Interurbans were intercity electric railways popular 100 years ago - and, believe it or not, the Hoosier state had one of the most extensive systems in the entire country.
The first interurban line in Indiana opened in 1898, from Anderson to Alexandria. The first interurban to Indy opened on New Year's Day in 1900 and brought passengers from Franklin and Greenwood to the Hoosier capital.
Interurban lines connected small towns with most of Indiana's big cities and the cities with each other. Lines radiated from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, Louisville, Lafayette, Peru, Terre Haute and Richmond (and six other routes). These interurbans then connected with others, reaching Chicago, Toledo, Columbus, and even farther. A separate hub centered on Evansville.
The bygone Traction Terminal in downtown Indianapolis - which opened in 1904 - was easily the nation's largest interurban station. A nine-story building with a train shed, the Traction Terminal was demolished in 1972.
Today, the only remaining passenger interurban in the state - and one of the few left in the country - is the popular South Shore line that links South Bend with Chicago. The final interurban departed from Indianapolis in September 1941, bound for Seymour.
What happened to the electric railways beloved by earlier generations of Hoosiers? Why was Indiana in the national forefront with them? And why did interurbans vanish from the Indiana landscape?
To explore the rise and fall of the interurban system, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts:
According to Electric Railroads of Indiana (Hoosier Heritage Press, 1980) by Jerry Marlette, a total of 111 different interurban companies operated more than 3,000 cars in the Hoosier state during the interurban era. Only Ohio had more miles of interurban lines than Indiana's 2,100 miles under wire.
Vestiges of the interurbans do still remain. In southern Marion County, the contemporary names of some streets - Stop 11 Road, for example - date to their heritage as stops on an interurban line.
As our guests Nathan and Craig join Nelson, they explore everything from the reliability of the interurban lines to various wrecks, including an accident that involved some of the cars on the final Indy-to-Seymour segment.
Fun fact: Although the interurban system was designed to shuttle passengers between (not within) towns, travelers in Indy during the early 1900s rode the interurban to Broad Ripple and Irvington. That's because they were distinctively separate villages then, not having been annexed yet into the Hoosier capital.
Of Indiana's 92 counties, 68 were served by at least one interurban line. In addition to the massive Traction Terminal in downtown Indy, Muncie was known for its impressive interurban station.
Interurbans competed for passengers with steam railroads whose terminals included the majestic Union Station in Indy. Running much more frequently during the day than passenger trains, the electric interurbans were tethered to power lines running above their tracks. According to several sources, few systems of transportation ever developed as quickly as the electric interurbans, and probably none disappeared as quickly.
Could the interurban system be successfully revived? Nelson poses that question to Nathan and Craig.
Roadtrip: Feast of the Hunters' Moon, Oct. 5-6
Guest Roadtripper and photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services suggests we take a Roadtrip to the West Lafayette area for the annual Feast of the Hunters' Moon celebration coming up on Oct. 5-6.
The festival is a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans that took place at Fort Ouiatenon, a fur-trading outpost, in the mid-1700s. It is held annually in early autumn on the banks of the Wabash River, four miles southwest of West Lafayette, Ind.
Joan tells us that Historic Fort Ouiatenon Park is a primitive country setting on South River Road, and the grounds stretch across more than 30 acres along the banks of the Wabash River.
Thousands of participants re-enact this event, creating a feast for your senses: Smell the wood smoke, hear the report of the rifles, savor authentic food and more.
Amid much fanfare, the Traction Terminal opened in 1904 at a high-visibility site in downtown Indianapolis. It was by far the nation's largest interurban station. The nine-story building and train shed remained at the site for nearly 70 years.
Designed by the D.H. Burnham & Company architectural firm, the Traction Terminal was a downtown landmark for generations of Hoosiers as the hub of the state's electric rail system.
But little attention was paid to its demolition in 1972, decades after the last interurban had departed from the Hoosier capital.
Question: Name the high-visibility site - the downtown Indy street corner - of the bygone Traction Terminal.
The prize is two tickets to the 5th Original and Fabulous GermanFest on Oct. 12, 4 tickets to GlowGolf, a miniature golf course across from the food court at Circle Centre mall in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy and GlowGolf, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
On the roads: Lincoln Highway and U.S. 40 heritage
(Sept. 21, 2013) - Tune in for a history road trip as we cruise through the heritage of two east-west highways that span the entire width of the Hoosier state. Both have a billboard-high heap of other distinctions as well.
In fact, the Lincoln Highway, which opened in 1913 as a result of a national crusade spearheaded by a famous Hoosier, is celebrating its 100th birthday. Extending from New York to San Francisco - and cutting completely across northern Indiana - the Lincoln Highway became, as USA Today recently put it, "the nation's first truly transcontinental road."
Beginning in the 1920s, U.S. 40 also traversed the entire country, including Indiana, where the highway stretches from Richmond to Terre Haute. For much of Indiana, U.S. 40 follows the route of the Old National Road, which pioneers in covered wagons used to settle in western frontiers after the roadway was created across Indiana in the 1830s.
You can listen to our 2009 show about the Indiana National Road with historic preservationist Jim Glass here.
For this radio road trip, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:
So, who kicked off the national crusade to create the Lincoln Highway?
Glory-June was Nelson's guest in 2009 for a show about Fisher's colorful life; listen to that show here.
As the founder of the Lincoln Highway Association, Fisher advocated the creation of a transcontinental roadway during an era in the automobile's infancy, when long-distance travel almost always was by railroad.
"Paved roads existed only in cities and towns, and auto travel on rutted, unpaved byways was not for the faint of heart," the USA Today article notes.
There is an Indiana Lincoln Highway Association. Hoosier cities located on the Lincoln Highway included Fort Wayne, South Bend, Valparaiso and Elkhart. Beginning in the 1920s, the name "Lincoln Highway" began to disappear as the numbered highway system was established across the country.
And beginning in the mid-1920s, Indiana had the distinction of offering two "routes" for the Lincoln Highway with the creation of a second option that traversed the state farther south, running from Fort Wayne to Chicago through Columbia City and Warsaw.
Contemporary highways in Indiana that reflect the routes of the Lincoln Highway - or portions of them - are U.S. 20, U.S. 30 and U.S. 33.
On U.S. 40 across the Hoosier state, landmarks range from historic farmhouses to skyscrapers and suburban strip malls. They include the Huddleston Farmhouse in Cambridge City, a brick residence built in the 1840s by a Quaker family with eleven children. The farmhouse, which offered overnight lodging for travelers headed west on the historic National Road, today includes a museum as well as Indiana Landmark's regional office, where our guest Joe Frost works.
In Richmond, U.S. 40 passes a monument known as Madonna of the Trail. Dedicated in 1928, the monument at the edge of Glen Miller Park is a memorial to pioneer mothers of the covered-wagon era; it depicts a steadfast woman holding an infant, with a toddler clinging to her long dress.
In the Wabash Valley between Brazil and Terre Haute, roadside landmarks include a large billboard for Clabber Girl Baking Powder that has been on the site since the 1930s.
Across much of the state today, U.S. 40 runs nearly parallel to I-70.
Roadtrip: Greencastle's buzz bomb and DePauw's Nature Park
Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson tells us that just a hop, skip and a jump from the Old National Road west of Indianapolis is the historic town of Greencastle. The hometown of DePauw University has something unique on its courthouse square: an authentic WWII buzz bomb, the V-1 rockets that Hitler used to bomb London.
These are the bombs that were used before the silent rockets that were launched by Wernher Von Braun's team. This is the only authentic V-1 that exists in America!
Eric also tells us that one of the real hidden gems in Greencastle is the DePauw Nature Park, which he says is a great example of outdoor historic re-use. The area was an abandoned gravel pit that had been excavated as close to all the neighboring roads as possible, and the university bought it and turned it into a fascinating nature park. If you like a short hike, you can see places that look like New Mexico, Hoosier swamps, butterfly gardens, frog ponds and two different creek beds. And you can see all kinds of wildlife, even more than you might find at some state parks!
A roadside diner built in the 1950s on U.S. 40 has generated considerable attention in recent years because the once-popular eatery is considered endangered. Designed in the Streamline Moderne style in New Jersey and transported by rail to a town in central Indiana, the diner closed in 2009.
The next year, the vacant diner was named to the "10 Most Endangered Places" list compiled by Indiana Landmarks.
The history and possible fate of the diner - which still has its 1950s interior with pink tiles - has been discussed on two Hoosier History Live! shows and sparked a Facebook crusade to save the landmark. The name of the diner reflects the town where it's located on U.S. 40.
Question: What is the town in central Indiana with the endangered diner?
The prize is a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurant and two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Lots of smiles at our 5-year anniversary fest
Some nice coverage of our five-year anniversary soiree came from Cathy Kightlinger of the Indianapolis Star, who gave the party a nice writeup:
"When Nelson Price talks history, people listen. That was apparent Thursday when his show, Hoosier History Live!, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a soiree of the state's notables and fans of the show. The event included a few trivia questions (something the Saturday show, which airs at noon on WICR-FM (88.7) is known for) and lots of shoulder rubbing."
Special thanks to Bill Holmes, who took all of the photos below.
Cuban immigration to Indiana
(Sept. 14, 2013 - online-only encore presentation) - For Sept. 14, Hoosier History Live! was pre-empted on WICR-FM so the radio station could broadcast Yom Kippur services from the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. So as a special treat, we made available one of the most popular programs from our Hoosier History Live! archives.
The featured program is a show in our rotating series about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state. We have explored our German, Irish, Italian, Greek, Scottish, Brazilian and even our Sikh heritage in Indiana, among others, during our five-and-a-half years on the air. If you'd like to have a look at our rich archive of past weekly enewsletters, click here.
To explore Cuban immigration to Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by Danny Lopez, who was executive director of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs when this show originally was broadcast on May 26, 2012. All four of Danny's grandparents left Cuba in 1960, fleeing political and economic upheavals.
Since he shared intriguing details about our state's Cuban heritage on this show - including identifying Fort Wayne and South Bend as the cities that have had the most concentration of Cuban immigrants - Danny has a new job title, although he remains an administrator with state government. Since the election of Gov. Mike Pence, Danny has been special assistant to the governor.
During our show, he notes that the number of Hoosier with Hispanic/Latino heritage has nearly doubled since the turn of the new century, climbing to 389,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. About 85 percent are of Mexican heritage. The next largest ethnic groups of Hispanic/Latino heritage in Indiana, according to Danny, are Puerto Ricans, followed by Cubans.
Cuban-Americans here (there are 4,300 of them, Danny reports) differ from their counterparts from other Latin homelands in several ways.
He attributes the concentrations of Cubans (for several generations) in South Bend and Fort Wayne to, respectively, the University of Notre Dame and to Catholic parishes in Fort Wayne that assisted Cuban families, including children during the early 1960s who were evacuated because of the Fidel Castro regime. In terms of the overall Hispanic/Latino population, the largest concentrations are in Indianapolis and in Lake County.
Danny has been a Hoosier since 2008. He grew up in Miami and graduated from an all-male, Jesuit-run preparatory school there that had been attended by his ancestors in Havana. Danny's wife, Sofia, also is Cuban-American; her grandfather graduated from Notre Dame.
Danny's paternal grandfather attended his alma mater, the Jesuit-run prep school, but it had a different setting then. As Danny discusses during the show, the prep school was based in Havana, not Miami, during his grandfather's era.
With increasing waves of Hispanic/Latino immigration to Indiana and other states, concerns have been expressed about "linguistically challenged" children in schools. In some immigrant households, as Danny notes, young children are the only English speakers among the family members.
But Danny also emphasizes that a reverse effect has the potential for unnecessarily limiting the advancement and talents of Hispanic and Latino children.
"We have concerns that many Hispanic families are not encouraging their kids to develop, or even keep, their fluency in Spanish," he said. "The parents want their children to assimilate so badly that they are discouraging their Spanish language usage. Obviously, though, fluency in Spanish will be a tremendous asset for professional opportunities later in life."
Unlike surrounding Midwestern states that have experienced only slight population increases or, in the case of Michigan, even lost residents since the turn of the 21st century, Indiana’s population climbed 6.6 percent. According to an Indianapolis Star analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data, Hispanics accounted for 43 percent of the population increase in the Hoosier state.
"Learn more" web links:
Thanks to UIndy student Derrick Lowhorn for editing this podcast.
Roadtrip: Ernesto Gonzalez on Indy Latin dance scene
Cuban-born Indy resident Ernesto Gonzalez steps up to talk about one of his personal passions, the Latin and salsa dance scene in Indy. An active dancer himself, Ernesto tells us about the Jazz Kitchen, the Red Room, and other hot spots around town on this online show.
Ernesto came to Indy in 1980 as a 17-year-old, being sponsored by the Indiana Catholic Conference at 1400 N. Meridian St. in downtown Indianapolis.
"I came as a political refugee, completely by myself, speaking no English, with only the clothes on my back," he says.
Ernesto has worked in Indianapolis as a hair designer for 33 years.
"America provides opportunities," he says. "I believe in hard work, and in reaping the rewards of hard work. I also believe that it is very important for everyone coming to this country to learn English."
Ernesto's parents and three siblings still live in Cuba, and 16 years ago Ernesto sponsored one of his brothers in moving to Indianapolis.
History Mystery contest on Facebook
During the 1990s, a city in Indiana elected a Hispanic mayor, one of the first in the state. He won two terms in office as mayor of the Hoosier city, serving from 1996 to 2003. A Democrat, he is the son of Spanish immigrants and was just 35 years old when he first won election as mayor of the city, which has been gaining population for several years. During his second term in city hall - in 2002 - the mayor launched an unsuccessful campaign for Indiana secretary of state.
Question: Name the city in Indiana that had a two-term mayor of Hispanic heritage beginning in 1996.
Please do not try to win if you have won any prize on WICR, or on our Facebook contests, within the last two months, so that others can have a chance. By the way, our Facebook winners last week were Wanda and Jane! Be sure to "like" us on Facebook if you haven't yet. And, we're also on Twitter at @hoosierhistlive. A big shout-out to our youthful and beautiful Tweeter, Allison DePrey Singleton; she is a former show guest who told us that we needed to be on Twitter!
Pioneer music in early Indiana
(Sept. 7, 2013 - encore presentation) - The jaw harp was popular. So were the fiddle and dulcimer. Community bands played flutes, whistles and drums.
There even were pianos before 1840 in Indiana, despite the significant challenges of transporting them to frontier communities via horse-drawn vehicles and river boats.
Musical instruments that weren't widely seen (or, in some cases, not present at all) in the Hoosier state of the 1820s, '30s and '40s: the guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, ukulele and accordion.
To explore all aspects of the music played by pioneer families in Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by Erik Peterson, an Indianapolis-based musician and historian, on this encore show. (The original air date was Jan. 26, 2013.) Erik has performed at Prairietown at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and at other history-focused sites.
"Keep in mind that, during the pioneer era, Mozart had not been dead for as long as Buddy Holly has been gone today," Erik says.
He has researched pre-1840 music of central Indiana for a postgraduate degree, thanks in part to a fellowship from the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Adept at various instruments, Erik often performs traditional Irish, American folk and Celtic music with various ensembles, including Hogeye Navvy, an Indy-based band known for sea chanteys.
During our show, he performs a few musical interludes to convey a flavor of the music heard in pioneer Indiana. He has gained insights by tracking down diaries, letters and journals of pioneer families.
"People in that era were incredibly musical," he says. "Music was a daily part of their lives, and it served as a way to build community among neighbors."
The jaw harp, a hand-held instrument about the size of a harmonica, was played frequently. Erik performs a tune on the instrument during our show, a rare opportunity to hear it. He notes the jaw harp primarily is relegated today to the soundtracks of cartoons.
"The fiddle was king of instruments here during the pioneer era," he says. "It’s loud, and it's portable."
As Hoosier History Live! guests discussed during a show last month about Switzerland County and Life on the Ohio River, the first piano was brought to Indiana in the early 1800s; the historic instrument is exhibited today at Switzerland County Historical Museum in the far-southeastern county on the Ohio River.
The extraordinary efforts undertaken to transport pianos here decades before railroads underscores the importance of music in the lives of pioneers, Erik emphasizes. He points out that many pioneer towns in Indiana even had community bands.
Like later generations, early settlers differed along gender lines when playing musical instruments. But the gender preferences often were reversed from those that unfolded later, Erik says. Many men tended to play flutes and violins, while women played guitars and banjos once those instruments finally made their way to Indiana, primarily after the Civil War.
Before that, advertisements for academies such as the Indianapolis Female Institute touted instruction in piano for young women.
During our show, Erik plays a few verses of a song that would have been played frequently in early Indiana: Hail, Columbia!, the unofficial national anthem of the era. The Star Spangled Banner was not adopted as the official national anthem until 1931, about 100 years after the era that is the focus of our show. Since then, Hail Columbia! primarily has been played to introduce the American vice president.
Roadtrip: Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi
Guest Roadtripper Glory-June Greiff, Indianapolis public historian, has made the day trip several times to the old canal town of Delphi in Carroll County, about 15 miles northeast of Lafayette.
There's plenty of hiking and history at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, which is open year-round and includes an Interpretive Center, lots of trails for hiking and biking, and canal boat rides that continue through the end of September.
Don't miss the Latrrope and Ruffing Opera House and adjacent shops. Glory-June also has an eye for great small-town restaurants; she says Delphi has the Stonehouse Restaurant and Bakery. And for your dining pleasure either coming or going, there is Treece Restaurant in Rossville.
History Mystery contest on Facebook
Harps of all kinds are built in a factory that has become a tourist attraction in a small Indiana town. Located in a former speakeasy, the factory building also includes a venue for concerts of harp music. The family-owned business makes instruments ranging from large symphonic harps to smaller harps, which they call "harpsicles," that are made in an array of colors. The former speakeasy-turned-harp factory is located on Main Street in its scenic hometown.
Question: Name the Indiana town. Since this is an encore show, you won't be able to call in. But if you are the first person to post the correct answer on the Hoosier History Live Facebook page (reference History Mystery in your post), you will win a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, as well as a pass for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society. You must also be willing to supply your postal address so the prize can be mailed to you.
Winona Lake, Warsaw, orthopedics and Grace College
(Aug. 31, 2013) - A scenic county in far-northern Indiana includes a city known as the "orthopedics capital of the country," a lakeside community with a long heritage as a spiritual retreat (one of the country's best-known evangelists of the early 1900s had deep connections to the region) and an evangelical Christian college.
We explore the rich history of Winona Lake, the orthopedics industry and its impact on Warsaw, the heritage of Grace College & Seminary and other aspects related to Kosciusko County, including links to the Potawatomi Indians, colorful evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935) and a Bible conference internationally known as the Second Wave.
Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:
According to Terry's book, the "first wave" of flourishing activity around Winona Lake began during the 1800s with the Potawatomi culture. This wave also included early white settlement and, from 1896 through the 1930s, a Chautauqua Days festival that included secular programs of lectures, recitals and plays often featuring famous Americans. Booker T. Washington spoke at Winona Lake in 1897, as did Helen Keller in 1915 and humorist Will Rogers in 1928.
The Chautauqua concept - derived from an ongoing cultural festival every summer in western New York - has been revived at Winona Lake in recent years.Although Billy Sunday grew up in Iowa and primarily was based in Chicago during most of his preaching years (he first achieved fame as a Chicago baseball player), he settled for part of each year in Winona Lake at a home he called Mount Hood. Built in 1911, the restored home is known today as the Billy Sunday Home Museum.
The first Bible conference in the area started in 1895, according to Winona Lake at 100; it was begun by Presbyterians. Brethren Church groups also began having general conferences in the resort town in the 1890s.
Subsequently, a corporation was formed to manage Winona Lake's summer Bible conference, which exploded in growth; it was overseen by a board that included household names such as politician William Jennings Bryan and wagon and auto-maker John Studebaker of South Bend. In 1944, Winona Lake also was the setting for the launch of Youth for Christ, an early employer of evangelist Billy Graham. (Historians now often describe Billy Sunday as "the Billy Graham of his era.")
Just like the Bible conference, the orthopedics industry in the region dates to 1895. According to an article in The Indianapolis Star in 2004, entrepreneur Revra DePuy, the founder of DePuy Manufacturing, began a splint-making business "with one key innovation: He used metal instead of wood." One of the company's top employees, J.O. Zimmer, left in the 1920s to form a competing medical device manufacturing company in Warsaw. Our guest Brad Bishop formerly served as Zimmer's director of public affairs.
According to Winona Lake at 100, Biomet was founded in 1977 by four young entrepreneurs in the orthopedics industry and began pioneering technological advances early on; within three years, it achieved $1.1 million in net sales.
The orthopedics industry now employs more than 6,800 workers in the region, accounting for nearly one in four jobs in Kosciusko County, according to a video on the OrthoWorx website.
For several decades, many students at Grace College in Winona Lake have had internships in the orthopedics industry, according to the Star article. A four-year liberal arts and sciences college with a seminary for masters and doctoral study, Grace College is Brethren-affiliated and began in 1937.
Our guest Bill Katip shares details about Grace College's early days, as well as its recent expansion, through the college's Weber School, to sites in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and other cities. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Grace College, its history department will sponsor a seminar Sept. 10 at Westminster Hall on the Winona Lake campus. And as part of Winona Lake's centennial celebrations, our guest Terry White will be among the speakers at a community appreciation dinner Nov. 14, also in Westminster Hall.
According to Terry's book, Winona Lake in the 1960s and '70s was a far cry from its earlier heyday. The resort village, he writes, had "declined remarkably, with much of the summer seasonal housing now ramshackle and unsightly."
That era of decline, though, was followed by a resurgence that Terry describes as a "metamorphosis." When he moved back to Winona Lake in 2003 after 26 years away, he discovered a "third wave" that included flourishing arts and culture. The town's historic street, Park Avenue, had become "lined with solid, quaint shops inhabited by artists, photographers, glass blowers, potters and woodworkers."
To commemorate the Potawatomi heritage across much of northern Indiana, a Hoosier city hosts a Trail of Courage Living History Festival every September. Like Warsaw and Winona Lake, this "mystery" city has a deep, historic connection with the Potawatomi.
When the tribe was forcibly removed from northern Indiana in 1838 by the forces of Gen. John Tipton, the Potawatomi were marched, single-file, down the city's Main Street. In what became known as the Trail of Death, the Potawatomi were led 900 miles to Kansas.
The Trail of Courage Living History Festival in the "mystery" Indiana city includes Native American music and dance, canoe rides, crafts, historic re-enactments and pioneer food cooked over wood fires.
Question: What city in northern Indiana hosts the festival?
Roadtrip: Glory-June's northern adventure
We’re just going to go with public historian Glory-June Greiff's words here for a few notes about her Roadtrip this Saturday:
"I always love a chance to go to the northern part of our state where the glaciers left behind lots of lakes and rolling terrain. Pokagon State Park in Steuben County is a good excuse. It offers all the activities you'd expect in a state park, but swimming in a real lake is a plus. All this and history, too: The park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its many examples of the work of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).
"The park inn is a fine place to eat," says Glory-June, "but I strongly recommend Clay's Family Restaurant (7815 N Old 27, Fremont) just a few miles north of the park, just south of the Michigan state line. Their food is just darned good and their pies are heavenly! Clay's is, after all, the home of the annual Pie Day in June, when, for a fixed price, they offer unlimited samples of every pie they make.
"The area is lovely to explore, what with its lakes, small farms, and small towns. Orland is a very small village, about 10 miles west of Clay's on SR120, but boasts a fish hatchery constructed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). It, too, is listed in the National Register If you're there on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, check out the Joyce Library in downtown Orland. It's charming, but ask to see the second floor, where the library first started. Many of us remember when most public libraries looked like this.
"If you’re going up from central Indiana, it's a goodly drive, although you can make Pokagon in less than three hours on I-69. I'd recommend going at least part of the way on the old highways, however, and if you get hungry, stop for a bite at Pembroke Bakery in downtown Fort Wayne.
"Don't let the fact that they offer healthy food deter you - it's really good! But if you’re not convinced, you can always go back in time to Powers Hamburgers at 1402 South Harrison, which was built around 1940. Don't confuse their hamburgers with a certain long-lived chain's sliders. These are meaty and loaded with onions grilled fresh. They also usually have a goodly supply of sweet rolls and doughnuts from the New Haven Bakery (or visit the bakery itself on the old Lincoln Highway! It's at 915 East Lincoln Highway. Enjoy!"
'Ask Nelson' and special-events-in-Indy insights
(Aug. 24, 2013) - A couple of times every year at Hoosier History Live!, we like to take full advantage of the fact that we are a live, call-in show - indeed, the only radio show about history in the entire country that offers listener call-in. That means we're able, periodically, to turn the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."
Along with our invitation to listeners to call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and pose questions to Nelson, we offer a bonus. In addition to questioning Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary notables) and Indianapolis city history, listeners of this show were able to ask questions of a special guest co-host.
Nelson is joined in studio by special-events impresario Gary BraVard, who has planned scores of the most glittering soirees in Indy for more than 25 years. From private parties to weddings, bar mitzvahs and black-tie fund-raisers featuring visiting celebrities, Gary has been the planner of a staggering array of events in the Hoosier capital.
Nelson's books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.
In between phone calls from listeners, Nelson and Gary ask each other questions.
By the way, Gary is no stranger to WICR - or to questions from Nelson. For several years, Gary was the co-host of our "sister" radio show on WICR-FM, Too Many Cooks!, which featured chefs, restaurant owners, dietitians, cookbook authors and foodies as studio guests.
Recently, Gary has been featured on-air as one of the rotating Roadtripper correspondents on Hoosier History Live! Did you catch his report last month about Crown Hill Cemetery, the third-largest private burial ground in the nation? Crown Hill also is one of about 70 sites depicted in Indianapolis Then and Now, which involved a collaboration among Nelson, photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services and photographer Garry Chilluffo.
Other sites in the book - which may provide fodder for listener questions - include Conseco Fieldhouse, now renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse (do you know what was on the site 100 years ago of today's arena for the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever?), Broad Ripple, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Union Station, Lockerbie, Garfield Park and Massachusetts Avenue.
For his books about famous Hoosiers, Nelson interviewed notables such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Reggie Miller, violinist Joshua Bell, artist Nancy Noel and former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who just was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Nelson has researched the lives of Little Turtle, Madam Walker, Carole Lombard and popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, who was the focus of a recent Hoosier History Live! show.
Two years ago, Gary was shot on the Monon Trail during an attempted robbery. During our show, he shares details about the crime, the trial of the 15-year-old who shot him, and Gary's ongoing recovery. He still has several bullets lodged in his body, including his spine.
On a much lighter note, Gary also shares behind-the-scenes details of a posh event - the retirement party of an Indianapolis business leader - that went awry. (A teaser: The disaster involved wet paint.)
Plus, Gary has a parade of anecdotes from Indy events that he planned with a guest list of visiting celebrities. In addition to the previously mentioned notables, including Carol Channing, attendees at his parties have included Lucie Arnaz, who was visiting the Hoosier capital for a theatrical performance.
So, with their trove of anecdotes about Hoosier places, notables and special events, Nelson and Gary field an array of questions from callers, and from one another.
Roadtrip: Indiana Dunes, town of Beverly Shores and South Shore Line
Roadtripper Nikki Martin will call in with a taste of what to expect when traveling up to the Dunes area in northwestern Indiana on Lake Michigan. Did you know that the South Shore Railroad Line historically has brought happy sun worshippers from the Chicago area to the Dunes?
The town of Beverly Shores also has some interesting landmarks, including several "modern" homes that were relocated to the town after Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress World's Fair. Tune in Saturday for more!
Several of the famous Hoosiers featured in Indiana Legends, the book by host Nelson Price, also have been guests on Hoosier History Live! They include a jazz musician and educator who is credited with pioneering the use of cellos in jazz music. A native of Indianapolis, he talked on our radio show about his teenage years at Attucks High School when, although under-age, he was able to slip into nightspots on Indiana Avenue during the area's post-World War II heyday as a jazz mecca.
Later in life, the musician and educator primarily has been based in Bloomington. He has enjoyed the distinction of serving as the conductor of the first orchestra funded by the Smithsonian Institution.
Question: Who is he?
A fond farewell to marketing partner Aesop's Tables on Mass Ave.
Aesop's Tables will be open for its last day of business on Saturday, Aug. 24, after 20 years in business. It has sold the lease on its stellar location at 600 Massachusetts Ave. in downtown Indianapolis. The landmark independent restaurant will be offering specials on Saturday.
Hoosier History Live has enjoyed a sponsorship trade with Aesop's for many years, which has made it possible for us to treat our fascinating Saturday show guests to lunch after the show, and also to be able to do a little business entertaining. Many loud and lively conversations over great food and drinks have taken place over the years at Aesop's. Thank you!
Christ Church Cathedral, Zion and Second Pres in Indy
(Aug. 17, 2013) - Three historic congregations in the Hoosier capital - each with a heritage of more than 150 years and each celebrating a significant milestone - are the focus of this show.
Located on a high-visibility site on Monument Circle, Christ Church Cathedral was built in the 1850s; the Gothic Revival building is considered the oldest religious structure in the city. The Episcopalian congregation, though, dates back even further, to the 1830s, and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary.
Sometimes called "the Little Church on the Circle," Christ Church remained at the heart of downtown even as neighboring churches moved or closed. Christ Church is known for its support of the arts, annual Strawberry Festival and renowned choirs, which sang at the Indiana State Capitol when Abraham Lincoln lay in state during a stop on his funeral procession to Illinois.
Rev. Stephen Carlsen, dean and rector at Christ Church Cathedral, join Nelson in studio. So does Rev. Jonathan Basile, senior pastor at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, which has a deep German heritage in Indy.
Founded in 1841 by German immigrants and considered to be the city's second-oldest Protestant congregation, Zion is celebrating 100 years at its current building on the corner of New Jersey and North streets. The church's neo-Gothic style building includes a sanctuary with wood sculptures of the disciples (a rendering of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper") by a German woodcarver. The sanctuary also boasts a 1940 Kimball pipe organ with 3,022 pipes.
One of Indy's largest congregations also is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Second Presbyterian Church, which has been known for decades for the "movers and shakers" in its pews, was founded in 1838.
Initially located on Monument Circle, followed by a building near the Indiana War Memorial, Second Pres has been at its current site at 7700 N. Meridian St. since the late 1950s. Since then, several wings and other additions have been added to the massive structure, most recently a music and fine arts department addition, youth area and social activities room called McFarland Hall. The church's historian and archivist, Fred Kortepeter, joins Nelson and the other guests in studio.
According to a history Fred has put together, the minister at Second Pres in the 1860s galvanized civic leaders to start the Indianapolis Public Library. The crusade began when the minister proclaimed during a Thanksgiving Day sermon that the lack of a public library was "a deficiency that is really fatal to the city's character."
Christ Church Cathedral also has been actively involved in civic affairs. Congregation members helped start public schools in the city during the 1800s and, more recently, have been involved with the Julian Center, the Damien Center and Second Helpings. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the cathedral was the setting for a citywide memorial service.
Some history nuggets:
Learn more: Zion's stained glass window renovation by Conrad Schmidt Associates.
Among several Methodist congregations that founded churches in downtown Indianapolis during the 1800s, one has a special distinction in the city's public-safety history. The Methodist congregation initially met in a chapel on the corner of Pennsylvania and Market streets in the 1840s and '50s. The chapel had a tower with a bell that called the congregation to worship; because the city had no fire bell then, the congregation allowed firefighters and other residents to ring the bell if a fire erupted in Indianapolis.
During the 1870s, a new church elsewhere downtown was built for the Methodist congregation, which continues to worship in the building today. Like Christ Church Cathedral, the church building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Question: What is the Methodist church?
Roadtrip: CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park
Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests we attend a daylong program coming up at McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer, Ind., to explore the legacy of the Civilian Conversation Corps.
The CCC was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal Depression-era employment program that put men to work creating charming structures in Indiana's parks - lodges, picnic shelters, bridges - using locally available materials.
Says Suzanne: "It was a sustainable design program ahead of its time!"
McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana's first state park, offers several examples of CCC. From 1933 to 1935, Company 589 of the CCC constructed shelter houses, a gatehouse and magnificent stone-arch bridge still visible today.
On Saturday, Aug. 24, Indiana Landmarks is offering a daylong Landmarks Experience exploring the CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park, with tours and lectures by historians, landscape architects and naturalists. You can register online for Landmarks Experience.
Ancient people here - and agricultural beginnings in Indiana
(Aug. 10, 2013 encore presentation) - Never let it be said Hoosier History Live does not dig deep into our rich heritage. As evidence, our focus during this show is on the so-called "Very First Hoosiers," or ancient people who lived more than 10,000 years ago in the densely wooded forests that became the site of Indiana.
During this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives (its original air date was Sept. 29, 2012), Nelson's guest is Dr. Christopher Schmidt, an archaeologist, biological anthropologist and director of the Indiana Prehistory Laboratory at the University of Indianapolis.
In addition to sharing insights about the ancient people who lived in what became the Hoosier state, Chris also discusses the beginnings of agriculture here. He is credited with discovering the oldest known man-made tool in Hoosier soil, an awl (used for making clothes) found during a dig near the town of Flora in Carroll County. The awl is estimated to be about 10,400 years old.
During the show, Chris, a popular U Indy faculty member who has overseen excavations across Indiana, shares details about the ancient Hoosiers of nearly 11,000 years ago, as well as information on the animal and plant life that surrounded them.
After many centuries, the ancient people began to develop agriculture, a move that, according to Chris, also meant an increase in various diseases. He discusses the correlation, as well as the origin of maize in Indiana.
Chris describes the ancient people as biological ancestors of Native Americans, although they differed culturally from the Native Americans who were living in the Eastern Woodlands when white settlers arrived.
According to Chris, the first evidence that Eastern Woodlands people manipulated plants - the beginnings of agriculture - occurred about 3,000 years ago. The ancient people, who lived in structures similar to wigwams, initially cultivated four varieties of plants that, according to Chris, today might be dismissed as "weeds."
Conclusions about the ancient people's diet and agricultural cultivations come from analyzing a variety of sources, including fossils found in Indiana.
Referring to the early cultivation of maize - a term Chris says is generally synonymous with corn - he explains that the ancient people often selected floodplains as sites of their fields. Floodplains provided a way to irrigate their crops.
"The actual corn they cultivated to eat was very similar, nearly identical, to the corn we eat today, except smaller," Chris says.
Initially, though, the plant did not produce multiple seeds in cobs. In what Chris describes as a "huge achievement," ancient people selectively bred their maize to produce cobs filled with corn kernels.
Switzerland County and living on the Ohio River
Not only does Hoosier History Live! explore the county's heritage, which includes Swiss immigration, an entrepreneur known as the "Hay King" and a popular wine festival, we also explore the impact of the Ohio River on towns and farms in the far-southeastern corner of the Hoosier state.
For this journey in advance of the Vevay Switzerland County Bicentennial, Nelson is joined in-studio by three guests:
Considered to be the home of the country's first commercial winery, Vevay hosts the annual Swiss Wine Festival. The four-day event, which will be Aug. 22-25, features a parade, riverboat cruises, music and a grape stomp.
The county's early Swiss settlers, who included John James Dufour Jr., his family and descendants, initially called their land on the river "New Switzerland." They set up vineyards and, in 1813, established the town of Vevay. Thanks to the ease of shipping goods by riverboat, the town and surrounding farms flourished for several decades. Farmers constructed flatboats and keelboats from nearby timber.
A history nugget, courtesy of bicentennial material: "Due in part to its easy accessibility to the Ohio River, other forms of transportation were slow to develop in Switzerland County." No railroad companies ever laid track in the county. Major roadways also were slow to be built.
The result was that later in the 1800s, when railroads trumped river traffic such as steamboats as the primary way to transport products and people, the region's economy declined.
At the "Life on the Ohio" River History Museum, riverboat models and artifacts from the heyday of steamboats are displayed.
In addition to overseeing the museum and creating artwork, our guest Martha Bladen is a retired elementary school teacher. She also oversees the under-development Agricultural Museum Center, which will showcase a hay press barn. Invented in Switzerland County, the hay press was patented in 1843.
"The hay press was a three-story, animal-powered machine that, using a pulley and screw, pressed 300- to 400-pound bales," Martha explains. "The defining characteristic was the large wood 'driver' that dropped from heights of 20 feet or more into a hay-filled box, thus pressing the hay into large bales."
Switzerland County resident Ulyyses P. Schenck, who became known as the "Hay King," had a fleet of eight steamboats and barges. Even before that, the ancestors of our guest Barry Brown had settled in the county. Both sides of his family, which included Scottish immigrants, as well as Swiss and French, arrived in the early 1800s.
Vintage artifacts from various early settlers displayed at the Switzerland County Historical Museum include the first piano brought down river by flatboat to Indiana.
Roadtrip: Hoosier Theater in Vevay, plus good eats
Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson will report on adventures to be had in Vevay, Ind., including visits to the famous Hoosier Theater there. Built in 1837, it is notable for its balcony, which is suspended from the ceiling by cast-iron rods.
The 1974 TV movie A Girl Named Sooner was shot in Vevay, and Eric even ran a showing of the film at the Hoosier last year!
Right next door to the Hoosier Theater is Roxano's Restaurant, a popular local eatery that specializes in pizza and Italian cuisine.
Eric also reports that just up the State Road 156 is Shell's Ice Cream and Grill, which he says is open late and is great for someone who just finished watching a long movie and wants to take a shake home for the road.
Eric also says Vevay has a very strong Main Street program, which we surely will hear more about from our show guests.
Switzerland County is one of the state's smallest counties, but it's not the smallest. That distinction goes to another county in the far-southeastern corner of the Hoosier state; it borders Switzerland County. And it's the smallest county in Indiana, both in population and in area.
Question: What is the county?
The prize is a couple of tickets to the Switzerland County Historical Museum and the Life on the Ohio River History Museum in Vevay, Ind., courtesy of the Switzerland County Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Dick's Bodacious Bar-B-Q in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Historic movie theaters, Act II
(July 27, 2013) - Consider this a sequel to a popular show last February that focused on historic Indiana movie theaters that now are in a range of conditions, from lavishly restored to long-deteriorating. We also touched on a challenge that could imperil single-screen theaters built decades ago: a looming deadline to convert to digital projection, which involves considerable expense.
To explore additional movie theaters with rich histories, as well as delve further into the digital-era challenges and various issues involved in programming classic or other Golden Age movies instead of contemporary films, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests. They are Indianapolis-based architect Jim Kienle, director of historic preservation at Moody Nolan, and film historian Eric Grayson, who owns a vast collection of rare movies and has preserved and restored many of them.
During our show, Nelson and his guests explore the Circle Theatre on Monument Circle in Indianapolis; it was built in 1916 as one of the largest silent-movie palaces west of New York. Despite its highly visible location in the heart of the Hoosier capital, the Circle had deteriorated alarmingly through the 1970s. Our guest Jim Kienle was a key figure in the 1980s renovation of what's now known as the Hilbert Circle Theatre, the concert hall of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Jim Kienle also shares insights about the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart, which opened in 1924 as a movie house and as a venue for vaudeville shows and big-band concerts. With an auditorium often likened to a European opera house of the 19th century, the Lerner has been the focus of national attention since an $18 million renovation that was completed in 2011.
But what about the long-deteriorated Rivoli Theatre on the eastside of Indy? We provide an update on the once-lavish theater on East 10th Street that seated 1,500 when it opened in 1927. Its disturbing saga, which included a stint as an X-rated theater, followed by decades of sitting vacant, was spotlighted during our February show.
Nelson and his guests also explore:
At the Embassy on Aug. 9, our guest Eric Grayson will be involved in a gala to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of famous Hoosier novelist and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. The event will include the showing of Laddie (1926), a rare silent movie (with its original score) based on her novel, which was published 100 years ago.
Initially known as the Emboyd Theatre, the ornate Embassy was built with nearly 3,100 seats, according to The Historic Fort Wayne Embassy Theatre (IU Press, 2009). Total seating capacity today is 2,470, including the balcony.
Many historic movie houses are far smaller and have just one screen. Their fate is uncertain as the movie industry quickly eliminates film in favor of all-digital distribution, an issue Nelson and his guests discuss. Purchasing and installing digital projectors - estimated to cost more than $70,000 per screen - far exceeds the resources of many historic movie houses in small towns.
Some history nuggets:
Roadtrip: Harrison Memorial at Crown Hill Cemetery
Roadtripper Gary Bravard suggests we take the Roadtrip to one of his favorite bicycling spots as a youth, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Established in 1863, Crown Hill is the country's third largest non-government cemetery, with 555 acres.
With its elegant landscaping and beautifully curved roads, and as the final resting place for one U.S. president, three vice presidents, Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley and infamous bank robber John Dillinger, Crown Hill is a virtual treasure trove for history lovers.
Gary spoke recently with Crown Hill President Keith Norwalk, who reported that President Benjamin Harrison Memorial (Indiana's only U.S. president) and gravesite at Crown Hill is getting a restoration, courtesy of a grant received through the Indianapolis Garden Club. A new walkway is being installed, with new steps and new landscaping. After the restoration is complete, visitors will be able to walk all the way around the memorial.
The renovation will be complete by the time of the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony for the Harrison Memorial, to be held at Crown Hill on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 10:30 a.m. in celebration of President Harrison's 180th birthday. Benjamin Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888 and served one term (1889-93). He was the nation's 23rd chief executive. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
An extensively restored, historic movie theater reopened last April in an Indiana town that's a county seat. The theater, located on the town's courthouse square, opened on New Year's Eve in 1928 and drew crowds from surrounding communities for several decades. But a few years after a fire, the theater closed in the 1990s and sat vacant.
The landmark theater's restoration was spearheaded by Cook Group Inc., which is based in Bloomington - just one county away from the town where the theater is located. Cook Group, the medical supply manufacturer, also has a plant in the "mystery" town.
Question: What is the town?
Hint: The town and its theater on the courthouse square were discussed during a Hoosier History Live! show in February about vintage movie houses.
The prize is four entries to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, two tours of the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and two public tours of Crown Hill Cemetery. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roots-tracing tips and advice
(July 20, 2013) - Maybe it happens more than once in a generation, but ask yourself: How often do you get free tips and advice about tracking down your family history?
Knowing that genealogy can be intimidating and overwhelming, Hoosier History Live! brings in some experts. They include an acclaimed Hoosier who not only is considered one of the top genealogists in the state, but among the best in the country as well.
Curt Witcher is manager of the renowned genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; it's generally regarded as the nation's best resource for roots-tracing, except perhaps for the Mormon-affiliated resources in Salt Lake City.
Curt also is former president of the National Genealogical Society and a board member of the Indiana Genealogical Society. Founded in 1989, the Indiana Genealogical Society has more than 500,000 records on its website from all of the state's 92 counties.
In addition to Curt, Nelson also is joined in studio by two Indiana Historical Society staff members who will be leading an upcoming workshop about beginning genealogy.
"Start with What You Know" is the title of the workshop with Kendra Clauser, IHS oral history project archivist, and genealogist Allison DePrey, IHS assistant coordinator for education and community engagement, who will be guests on our show. For more information about - or to register for - the July 27 workshop, which will be 10 a.m. to noon at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, contact the historical society.
Elsewhere in Indiana, a major opportunity will be available for listeners interested in roots-tracing. The Federation of Genealogical Societies will have a national conference Aug. 21-24 in Fort Wayne. Our guest Curt Witcher is a board member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies; its upcoming conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center is open to anyone interested in family history.
During our show, Nelson and his guests explore roots-tracing aspects galore. They include tips on:
Our guest Curt Witcher has worked at the Allen County Public Library for more than 34 years. And our guest Allison DePrey, an Allen County native, began her roots-tracing research at the library as a teenager. In recent years, Allison has given presentations at several genealogy workshops across the state.
Her colleague at the historical society, our guest Kendra Clauser, specializes in interviewing and "collecting individual life stories" of people who have witnessed significant events in Indiana's recent past.
This is an ideal show for listeners to call in at (317) 788-3314 and ask for advice in exploring family trees.
Roadtrip: Wabash, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper and historian-at-large Glory- June Greiff recommends we head north from Indianapolis to visit the historic town of Wabash, which was founded in 1834 on a high bluff.
Wabash lies above the river of the same name in the county of the same name and also was a port on the Wabash and Erie Canal. It was the first town in the world (!) to be illuminated by electricity, back in 1880. The lights were installed on the dome of the beautiful new courthouse, completed only the year before.
The historic courthouse still stands, and immediately to the west is the old GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall, guarded by two cast-iron Civil War sentries. The building, which until recent years housed the Wabash County Historical Museum, now contains county offices. The museum moved to a new location downtown at 36 E. Market and is well worth seeing. The staff there will be pleased to direct you to the numerous historic sites in the area.
Wabash is filled with many wonderful historic houses, and Glory strongly suggests simply walking, especially north and west of downtown. A very nice house museum is the Dr. James Ford Historic Home. And the Honeywell House is a beautiful bed-and-breakfast that also hosts several arts and educational programs and events throughout the year.
The Honeywell Center, an interesting building with Art Deco influences, is a community center and auditorium that offers top-notch entertainment throughout the year. And if you're hungry, don't miss lunch or dinner at the Charley Creek Inn, a beautifully restored 1920s hotel downtown. You may very well want to stay the night!
In addition to being the site of the renowned Allen County Public Library and its genealogy center, Fort Wayne also hosts one of the largest annual festivals in northeastern Indiana. The festival is held every September to celebrate the life of an American folk hero.
Many historians believe the folk hero died in the Fort Wayne area, probably in 1845. A memorial to the folk hero on his likely gravesite is in Archer Park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
He has been celebrated in literature as well as pop culture, including Walt Disney cartoons.
Question: Who is the folk hero celebrated at the Fort Wayne festival?
The prize is four entries to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, two tours of the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and a pair of tickets to the Track Tour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Swedish and Norwegian immigration
(July 13, 2013) - Much turf remains to be explored in our rotating shows about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state, even though we already have explored German, Irish, Scottish, Cuban, Italian, Greek, Colombian, Brazilian and even Sikh heritage in Indiana.
Now the turf will involve scenic homelands with fjords, the midnight sun, seafood and ship-builders.
That's because Nelson and his guests explore Swedish and Norwegian immigration to Indiana, a topic that involves a legendary football coach at the University of Notre Dame, an organ factory in Chesterton, heritage groups scattered across the state and the Studebaker Brothers in South Bend, even though the wagon- and car-making brothers were of German ancestry themselves.
Our show is timely because the Indianapolis-area lodge of Vasa Order of America, which was founded to assist Swedish immigrants, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Named in honor of the first king of modern Sweden, King Gustav Vasa, Vasa has broadened its mission to welcome anyone interested in Nordic culture, including Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Finnish heritage.
Full disclosure: Our host Nelson is particularly passionate about this topic because his ancestry is Norwegian. His maternal great-grandparents emigrated in steerage on ocean liners, separately, from Trondheim (Norway's third-largest city) and Bergen, a coastal town. Nelson's parents are members of the Circle City Lodge of Sons of Norway, a heritage group that also has lodges in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Chesterton.
Nelson is joined in studio by three guests, one of whom also is a Sons of Norway member. Jim Nelson, a music teacher in Greenwood, is the descendant of Norwegian immigrants, grew up in Chesterton, lived in Norway for more than 18 years and has taught Scandinavian studies at colleges in Minnesota, Canada and Norway. He has given presentations about Norwegian immigration, as well as about Norwegians in the Civil War.
To share insights about our state's Swedish heritage, Nelson welcomes an old friend and colleague, Vasa member Jim Lindgren, a Fishers resident whose ancestry is 100 percent Swedish. Now an editor for Strategic Marketing and Research Inc. in Carmel, Jim Lindgren is a former colleague of Nelson from their years at the Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star, where Jim was known for propping up a Swedish flag on his desk.
Nelson and the two Jims also are joined by John Bevelhimer of Indianapolis, a retired IT specialist and past chairman of the local Vasa (Lodge Svea No. 253) who extensively researched its history for the recent centennial.
According to Peopling Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996), Swedes and Norwegians who eventually came to Indiana tended to settle first in Chicago, then filter into the Hoosier state as a result of a second move.
The grandparents of both Nelson and Jim Lindgren lived in the Chicago area. In fact, Jim's great-grandfather, Nels Lindgren, owned a Swedish tavern in Chicago. The Andersonville neighborhood of the Windy City is historically Swedish.
Scandinavian immigrants typically arrived in Indiana decades later than their German and Irish counterparts, often lured by whatever farmland remained unclaimed during the late 1800s and early 1900s. For early groups of Swedes, that often meant farmland in Porter County.
In the 1880s, an organ factory in Chesterton became the town's main industry and employed many Swedes and Norwegians, according to Peopling Indiana.
"Swedes were so dominant in Chesterton that in the 1880s the Chesterton Tribune occasionally ran front-page articles in the Swedish language," the book notes.
Primarily, early Swedish settlements were in a part of northeast Porter County known as Bailleytown and surrounding areas near the Lake Michigan shore. According to our guest Jim Nelson, Swedish settlements large enough to establish and sustain Lutheran congregations - in addition to Chesterton - were in Plymouth, LaPorte, Donaldson, Michigan City, Porter, Chesterton, Gary, East Gary (later renamed Lake Station), Hobart and Whiting.
A section of Michigan City became known as "Swedeville," drawing Scandinavians seeking jobs in shipping and lumber. Peopling Indiana notes that by 1890, three counties in northwest Indiana - Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties - included more than half of the state's Swedish-born residents.
Studebaker Brothers in South Bend actively recruited Swedish workers during the factory's heyday. Several of the mystery novels of contemporary author Jeanne Dams of South Bend focus on a resourceful Swedish immigrant working as a maid in one of the historic Studebaker mansions during the late 1800s.
South Bend also became the adopted hometown of an icon in college football history. Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame coach who used the "win one for the Gipper" story as a motivational technique, was born in the Norwegian village of Voss. The South Bend Chocolate Company continues to market Knute Rockne lines of chocolates in tribute to "The Rock," who is credited with revolutionizing college football before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1931.
Some other fun facts:
"Learn more" websites include:
Roadtrip: Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and art playground in Columbus, Ind.
Guest Roadtripper this week is one of Central Indiana's favorite foodies, Daina Chamness. She'll be reporting on a recent trip she took to Columbus, Ind., to check out the fabulous 1900 ice cream parlor Zaharakos in the 300 block of Washington Street there.
Remember that the Columbus Visitors Center is in walking distance of these downtown attractions.
A well-known former political figure from Indiana is Norwegian-American on his mother's side. Her grandfather - the politician's great-grandfather - emigrated from Norway in the late 1800s.
The Hoosier politician, who won a series of statewide elections over a 20-year period beginning in the 1980s, took a trip with his mother to their ancestral homeland of Norway, as well as to other Scandinavian countries. The mother-son journey unfolded in the summer of 1978, following the son's graduation from Indiana University.
Less than a year later - in April 1979 - the future politician's mother died of cancer. In her final years, she had crusaded to raise awareness of breast cancer.
Question: Name the former Indiana politician who is of Norwegian heritage in his maternal line.
Hint: His father, who is still living, also had a long political career and won statewide elections over a period of 20 years.
Orville Redenbacher and popcorn heritage in Indiana
(July 6, 2013) - Chew on this: Not only is "Year of Popcorn" the theme at next month's Indiana State Fair, but the farmboy-turned-entrepreneur who became internationally known as "the Popcorn King" was a Hoosier.
Grandfatherly, bow-tied Orville Redenbacher (1907-95), who became a multimedia advertising icon, is far from Indiana's only link to the perennially, uh, pop-ular product that long ago became a household staple.
A farm agent who grew up near Brazil, Ind., Redenbacher studied at Purdue University and experimented for more 40 years with 3,000 hybrids of popcorn. He's credited with making the first significant changes in the treat since Native Americans introduced it to white settlers in the 1600s.
His adopted hometown of Valparaiso, where Redenbacher lived for many years, continues to host an annual Popcorn Festival in his honor. The event, which includes a popcorn parade, typically is attended by 75,000 people.
Another Hoosier town - Van Buren in Grant County - also hosts an annual Popcorn Festival that features a parade. Because so much popcorn is produced from the farms surrounding Van Buren (pop.: 864 in the 2010 U.S. Census), the town bills itself as "the popcorn capital of the world." According to the State Fair, Indiana is one of the country's top popcorn-producing states.
So not only do we explore the colorful life of Orville Redenbacher, the "king of kernels," Nelson and his guests also delve into the product's historic importance to the Hoosier state's economy and heritage.
Noblesville-based, family-owned Weaver Popcorn Company makes and distributes popcorn internationally (since 2010, Weaver Popcorn has even been sold at movie theaters in China) and is a leading maker of microwave popcorn.
To digest all of this popcorn talk, Nelson is joined by Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, who interviewed Redenbacher and also was a colleague of the late Robert Topping, author of the definitive biography Just Call Me Orville (Purdue University Press, 2011).
Nelson's guests also include Andy Klotz, public relations director of the State Fair, who shares details about the ways the product will be showcased next month. Andy also shares insights about Weaver Popcorn, which was founded in the 1920s by Rev. Ira Weaver, another beloved Hoosier entrepreneur.
Fun fact: When Nelson was researching Orville Redenbacher's life for his book Indiana Legends, he discovered the popcorn king always preferred his "salted, no butter."
At Brazil High School, Redenbacher captured state championships in 4-H club contests. He paid for his tuition at Purdue (which, as he put it, soon was "on the cutting edge of popcorn research") by scrubbing hog houses and tending chickens. Redenbacher became an agricultural agent in Vigo County, where he apparently was the first county agent in Indiana to broadcast live on radio from fields.
By the time Redenbacher died at age 88, he was a national celebrity, thanks to the use of his name and image on his product's label and in countless magazine ads and TV commercials. Even today, nearly 20 years after the death of Redenbacher (who is often described as popcorn's version of Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame), ads and commercials still feature him, often accompanied by his grandson.
At age 12, Orville Redenbacher began raising popcorn and selling it in 50-pound sacks to stores in Brazil and Terre Haute. In addition to studying agriculture as a Purdue student, he played the sousaphone in Purdue's renowned All-American Marching Band.
The decades he devoted to experimenting with hybrids are credited with producing a variety that popped significantly larger, lighter and fluffier. It became a marketing sensation as Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn and eventually was sold to California-based Hunt Wesson Foods, which continued to use Redenbacher as the brand's spokesman. (It eventually was swallowed up by ConAgra, the giant food conglomerate based in Omaha.)
At the State Fair, which will run from Aug. 2-18, the world's largest popcorn ball - weighing 5,200 pounds - will be on display. According to a recent article in the Indianapolis Star, Sac City, Iowa currently holds title for the world's largest popcorn ball with its 5,000-pound ball created by town residents in 2009.
Other aspects of the "Year of Popcorn" celebration at the fair will include a twist on a traditional corn maze: a popcorn maze that fair-goers can maneuver through.
Final fun fact: According to Just Call Me Orville, the "Popcorn King," who became a hit on the speaking circuit, occasionally would introduce his talk by saying, "My topic tonight is sex."
After his audience reacted with astonishment, he would share insights about "the sex life of a popcorn plant and the breeding methods required to obtain hybrids."
Roadtrip: Oldenburg, the village of spires
Guest Roadtripper this week is William Selm, architectural historian, adjunct faculty member at IUPUI and expert on German heritage in Indiana. He suggests we visit another of his favorite German-settled small towns in Indiana, Oldenburg, which is right off I-74 going southeast Indianapolis in Franklin County.
William tells us that "Oldenburg is one of many towns and villages across Indiana, especially Southern Indiana, founded by and for German immigrants before the Civil War. What makes Oldenburg stand out is its townscape of spired buildings, most of which are part of the complex of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis."
Oldenburg was founded in 1837 by two immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg at the request of the Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Ferneding, also an Oldenburger. A later priest, Fr. Franz Josef Rudolf from Alsace, had the vision of spires as he built the c. 1848 onion-domed stone church, the current brick 1860s parish church, and the first convent buildings.
This energetic priest also co-founded the convent and invited Beatus Gehring to establish his brick yard south of the village. He is honored with a crypt tomb in the parish church. Oldenburg's annual Freudenfest is this July 19-20.
Not far from the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette where Orville Redenbacher majored in agricultural studies is a landmark in Indiana food history.
Billing itself as the state's oldest drive-in, the restaurant has a memorable name. Known for burgers, shakes and root beer, it serves menu items such as Boilermaker burgers and peanut butter burgers. The restaurant opened in 1929, one year after young Orville Redenbacher graduated from Purdue.
Question: Name the landmark restaurant in West Lafayette.
Underground Railroad reality and myths in Indiana
(June 29, 2013) - If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - were stops on the Underground Railroad.
Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.
To share insights about the myths and reality regarding the extent and nature of the Underground Railroad network in Indiana - including what is and isn't confirmed - Nelson is joined in studio by two experts. They are historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis and Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum.
A board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a nonprofit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state, Dona has been a popular guest on Hoosier History Live!, as has Kisha.
Dona has joined us for shows about roots tracing, as well as about various aspects of Underground Railroad heritage in Indiana. The Underground Railroad era generally is defined as beginning in the mid-1830s.
Oral histories, diaries, notations in family Bibles and letters have been crucial in figuring out the routes, buildings and people associated with the effort to help runaway slaves - or freedom seekers - as they passed through Indiana.
How, though, do you document something that obviously was kept secret?
In addition to tackling that issue - Nelson asks Dona and Kisha how people can determine the reliability of diary entries or letters - we also explore which regions of the state had frequent stops on the Underground Railroad. And which ones had very few.
Learn more: Clickable map showing Underground Railroad sites in Indiana.
According to several accounts, St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, served an integral role with fugitive slaves as they headed north. And because of the prevalence of anti-slavery Quakers in Wayne County and other parts of far-eastern Indiana, that region also had a flurry of clandestine activity.
During our show, we also will discuss the frequency with which so-called slave catchers from the South - often mercenaries - combed Indiana in search of freedom seekers.
Related to that, we will explore the frequency with which home and business owners were prosecuted for harboring escaped slaves or helping them in other ways. In some cases, abolitionists arranged for medical care. Small groups of Hoosier women secretly gathered to weave blankets and clothes for the refugees, who often fled with scarcely any possessions.
Also during the show, Dona and Kisha share insights about on-going efforts to preserve the Underground Railroad heritage across the state.
For a program in 2011 with historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, Hoosier History Live! even explored freedom seekers in Indiana before the Underground Railroad was established - in some cases, several years before statehood was achieved in 1816.
Learn more: Click on these Hoosier History Live! show newsletters (2008 through 2013) with African-American history themes from our trove of 250 shows:
Roadtrip: Underground Railroad in Jeffersonville
Guest Roadtripper and historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, founder of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, suggests we take a Roadtrip to southern Indiana, that part of the state along the Ohio River rich with Underground Railroad activity because of its proximity to the slave state of Kentucky.
Hannah Toliver was a free black woman living in Jeffersonville before the Civil War and was an Underground Railroad activist. She was was arrested for aiding a fugitive slave from Kentucky, and she served time in the Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort before being released and returned to Jeffersonville. Her historical marker is on Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville.
Maxine Brown, who also known for having restored the Leora Brown Colored School in Corydon, will suggest Underground Railroad spots to visit in "her" part of the state.
In a small town near Richmond during the 1840s, a Quaker couple helped so many escaped slaves in their journeys to freedom that their home became known as the "Grand Central Station" of the Underground Railroad.
Their red brick, two-story house in Wayne County had a cellar as well as a hidden, second-floor bedroom - actually, a large crawl space - where freedom seekers could hide.
Feeling passionately that slavery was wrong, the couple convinced other Quakers in their town to join their crusade. A prosperous banker, mill owner and merchant, he prevailed on townspeople to help transport and conceal escaped slaves. She persuaded her friends to gather at her spinning wheel and help weave blankets and clothes for the refugees.
Today, their home is a popular destination for school field trips.
Question: Name the Quaker couple.
Please provide their surname and both of their first names.
The prize is a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, and a gift certificate for Greatimes Family Fun Park on Indy’s southside. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Centennial in 1916, bicentennial in 2016
(June 22, 2013) - As Indiana prepares to celebrate a big birthday, Hoosier History Live! look ahead and back. That is, we explore what happened in 1916 when Indiana celebrated 100 years of statehood. And we will explore plans under way for the upcoming bicentennial in 2016.
To share insights about the 100- and 200-year celebrations, Nelson is joined in studio by Indiana's widely admired and award-winning historian, James Madison, a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University and the author of several books about various aspects of the state's history, and by Chris Jensen, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.
According to an article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, the 1916 centennial was "conducted with great energy and little funding," although it ended up having a "lasting impact" on the 19th state.
President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. A weeklong pageant (called the Pageant of Indiana) was held at Riverside Park in Indianapolis. A silent movie (titled Indiana) was filmed in which Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley appeared (click link to view a portion of the film commission by the Selig Polyscope Co. All seven reels of this epic may be lost.)
And high school students across the state donned American Indian outfits and feathers.
Enthusiasm generated during the centennial eventually resulted in the purchase of Indiana's first two state parks, Turkey Run in Parke County and McCormick's Creek in Owen County. Civic leader Richard Lieber, who chaired the centennial's park committee, served as a "tireless advocate" of the purchases, as Traces put it.
For the 200th celebration, our guest Jim Madison is one of 15 distinguished Hoosiers who have been appointed to the bicentennial commission, which is overseeing the planning and execution of statewide events. The commission is being chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, a Republican, and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. The state's first lady, Karen Pence, is serving as the official bicentennial ambassador.
Jim Madison is the author of several books about various aspects of Indiana history, including The Indiana Way: A State History, A Lynching in the Heartland and Eli Lilly: A Life. He also is a trustee of the Indiana Historical Society and a board member of Indiana Humanities.
According to information from our guest Chris Jensen, the goal of the 2016 celebration is to "honor our state's 200 years of history, but to do so in a modern way that engages all Hoosiers and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations."
Plans are being developed for a Bicentennial torch relay that will run through all of the state's 92 counties. The relay will highlight passing the torch from one generation to the next.
The bicentennial commission also hopes to spark "legacy projects" across the state. Specifically, the commission wants to work with communities to identify local projects that are dedicated to the bicentennial, but that also will have a lasting impact. Under a Bicentennial Nature Trust dedicated to nature conservation, 35 projects in 28 counties already have received $8.1 million in grants, according to Chris Jensen. The trust is funded by money from the state and the Lilly Endowment.
In addition to the state park system that was kicked off in 1916, the centennial also spurred the formation of groups such as the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and honoring the work of the state's pioneers. Members are descended from settlers who arrived during the pioneer era, generally defined as before 1840. (Nelson is a board member of the Society of Indiana Pioneers.)
"Local historical societies were forming or reactivating across Indiana," Traces reported, referring to the impact of the 1916 centennial.
But the hoopla took awhile to ignite. According to a booklet published after the 1916 festivities, an initial challenge involved galvanizing Hoosiers about the state’s 100th anniversary.
"The people of Indiana as a whole knew little and therefore cared little about the centennial anniversary. ... There was the usual amount of inertia to overcome."
According to an Indianapolis Star account about the Pageant of Indiana in Riverside Park, its huge cast "nearly matched the number of onlookers," but it was nevertheless a "hit." The pageant, which reviewed the state's history, opened every afternoon for six days and continued after sunset, with electric torches providing the illumination.
Re-enactors - who included adults, as well as 1,500 high school students and children - portrayed French soldiers, Native American warriors, Quaker farm wives and famous Hoosiers such as Gen. Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur.
Roadtrip: Danville's Courthouse Square
Guest Roadtripper Eric Grayson, film historian, suggests we head just a bit west of Indianapolis on State Road 36 to visit Danville, which has a classic Indiana small-town courthouse square. The square boasts a wonderful 1907 courthouse and is home to one of the most moving Memorial Day displays in the area.
Crowning the square is the historic Royal Theater, which one of Indiana's only movie theaters in the Tudor style. The facility has been lovingly maintained and run by the Shearer family for the past several years.
Next door to the Royal is an outstanding Italian restaurant, Frank's Place, run by a real Italian. It's in a historic building, but the inside is all-new, and the smells are great.
Around the corner, of course, is the legendary Mayberry Cafe, a takeoff on television's classic Andy Griffith Show. The Mayberry Cafe has a 1963 police squad car parked in front, so you can't miss it!
One of Indiana's first counties to be organized already is celebrating its bicentennial this year. Located in far-southwestern Indiana, the county was organized in 1813.
Its county seat is a town to which a teenage Abe Lincoln walked so he could sit in courtrooms and observe cases argued by a local lawyer, who mentored him. (The bicentennial county is located next to Spencer County, where the Lincoln family lived.)
Another town in the county is known for its historic Main Street and scenic "river village" ambience; the town is nestled on the Ohio River. Some of the county is considered to be part of the metro area of Evansville, which is located in another bordering county, Vanderburgh County.
Question: Name the far-southwestern county celebrating its 200th birthday this year.
Hint: It often is listed among the 10 fastest-growing counties in the state.
Indy Mayor Greg Ballard on Marines history and 'old' Cathedral High
(June 15, 2013) - An Indianapolis native, he grew up on the Eastside, attended the "old" Cathedral High School (when it was located downtown and had all male students) and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
So there's much local history to cover with Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, 58, who was elected to his second term in 2011. As Hoosier History Live! segues from a former mayor of Indy (Bill Hudnut, the June 8 show guest) to his current counterpart, Mayor Ballard is Nelson's studio guest for a show that explores history topics that have been intertwined with his life.
They include the links between the Hoosier state and the Marines. After a 23-year military career, Mayor Ballard, a Republican, retired as a lieutenant colonel from the Marines in 2001 and returned to his home town to enter private business.
He shares insights about who and what influenced him during his youth to join the U.S. Marine Corps. The future mayor joined the Marines after studying economics at Indiana University in the 1970s.
The decision eventually led to assignments in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War; and Stuttgart, Germany, as well as in Michigan, North Carolina and California, where he met his wife, Winnie Ballard, a native of the Philippines. During the first Gulf War, the future mayor was promoted to major.
Other links between the Marines and the Hoosier state:
Back in the mayor's hometown, we also will focus on Cathedral High School, where he was a member of the Class of '72.
Since its founding in 1918, the Catholic high school had been located at 14th and Meridian streets and attended only by boys. The future mayor's years there were preceded and followed by major changes.
In 1976, four years after he graduated, Cathedral merged with Ladywood, an all-girls Catholic academy located on the northeast-side, a decision that was presented as a financial necessity for both schools. The merged, co-ed school, which took the Cathedral name, is on the former Ladywood site on East 56th Street.
Previously, while the future mayor was attending Cathedral, Ladywood had merged in 1971 with Cathedral's "sister" school downtown, St. Agnes Academy. Located just to the south of the "old" Cathedral, the former academy now is the site of St. Agnes Apartments.
Greg Ballard, who grew up on the Eastside in a family of five children, attended Cathedral on a scholarship. In addition to graduating from IU, he obtained a master's in military science from Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va. His defeat of incumbent Bart Peterson in the 2007 mayoral election has been called one of the biggest upsets in Indy's political history.
Roadtrip: Monument Circle for kids
Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications reports that she took her kids for a recent tour of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, and her children were fascinated by Christ Church Cathedral, with its early gothic revival architecture, Tiffany stained-glass windows and pipe organ.
Kelly's daughter, age 10, had studied President Lincoln in school this year and was fascinated to learn that the church bells had rung out as Lincoln's body lay in state at the nearly Capitol.
Kelly and crew then crossed the street, headed up the 330 steps (yes, walked!) to the observation level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for a great view of the city, and they visited the Civil War Museum in the lower level.
They topped off their Roadtrip with ice cream from the Chocolate Cafe, and then a quick trip back in time for Kelly at Rocket Fizz, a candy shop with nearly every type of novelty candy. Both of these sweet spots are right on the Circle.
More than 25 years before future Mayor Greg Ballard became a Marine, another well-known Indianapolis political figure served in the Marines. As a Marine from 1950 to 1952, he served during the Korean War, saw combat and endured two fierce winters in Korea.
The future politician was born in Indy in 1932. He graduated from Shortridge High School in 1949, then served in the Marines. After that, he enrolled in Indiana University. In addition to a long political career - he held public office almost without interruption from 1964 until retiring in 1997 - he worked as a deputy sheriff in Marion County, a lawyer, an author and a college instructor.
Question: Who was he?
The prize is a pair of tickets to the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Former Indy Mayor Bill Hudnut
(June 8, 2013) - He served as mayor of Indiana's capital city longer than anyone else in history.
For 16 eventful years - a span of four terms that included unforgettable chapters, many of which have been the focus of previous Hoosier History Live! shows (such as the notorious Blizzard of '78 and the massive Pan American Games of 1987 - William Hudnut III led Indianapolis and attained national prominence.
Although former Mayor Hudnut and his wife, Beverly Hudnut, primarily have lived in the Washington D.C. area since he left the top Indy office in 1992, he makes a return visit and - for our 250th show - joins Nelson in studio to explore what has become known as "the Hudnut era."
He didn't start out as a Hoosier. Born in Cincinnati in 1932, Bill Hudnut grew up in New Lebanon, N.Y., graduated from Princeton University and, like his father and grandfather, became a Presbyterian minister. He moved to Indy in 1963 to serve as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, one of the city's most prestigious congregations.
By the time he left Indy, the city's skyline had been transformed - by, among other structures, the domed stadium that initially was known as the Hoosier Dome when it opened in 1984. Mayor Hudnut, a Republican, championed the sports facility's construction, even though the city did not yet have a National Football League team to play in it. The Hoosier Dome was still not quite finished in late March 1984 when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indy on Mayflower Van Lines trucks late at night. The move beat a looming deadline in Maryland, where the team had been squabbling with lawmakers and civic leaders.
The history of what later was named the RCA Dome was the focus of our third Hoosier History Live! Show after our debut in early 2008, shortly before the stadium's demolition. That program followed a show about the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, the worst in city history, during which the lanky, 6-foot-4 mayor rode on snowplows and urged residents to persevere.
An unabashed cheerleader known for his willingness to do just about anything to rally his adopted hometown - including donning a leprechaun outfit on St. Patrick's Day - Bill Hudnut particularly advocated the resurgence of downtown and Indy's unofficial designation as the country's amateur sports capital. During his terms as mayor (1976-92), he also served as president of the National League of Cities.
Nelson asks the former mayor to identify his greatest accomplishments, as well as his biggest disappointments. A recent article in the Indianapolis Star about the 25th anniversary of the concert venue initially known as Deer Creek Music Center (now Klipsch Music Center) indicated then-Mayor Hudnut unsuccessfully pushed for it to be built in what became White River State Park, rather than its eventual site in Hamilton County.
"What would you do if you were called to lead a city known as Naptown, India-No-Place or Brickyard in a Cornfield?" Bill Hudnut asks in his book The Hudnut Years (IU Press, 1995). His other books include Minister Mayor (Westminster Press, 1987).
Citing Hudnut's initiatives with downtown rejuvenation and the city's track record as a sports capital, current Mayor Greg Ballard in January renamed a downtown park Hudnut Commons. Formerly known as Capitol Commons, the park is at Maryland Street and Capitol Avenue, across the street from the Indiana Convention Center.
Before his record-breaking mayoral terms, Bill Hudnut served as a U.S. congressman from Indianapolis. In 1972, he defeated his friend, incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. - who, in turn, came back and defeated Hudnut two years later.
During the mid-1970s, in between his stints in public office, Bill Hudnut was on the faculty at the University of Indianapolis (then Indiana Central University), where he taught political science.
As mayor, he oversaw highly touted partnerships between the public and private sectors. In 1990, the Indianapolis News estimated that with "gifts from the Lilly Endowment, millions of dollars in tax abatements and other incentives, and investments from private developers, more than $4 billion worth of construction took place downtown. ... Public and private city leaders placed an unprecedented emphasis on downtown development."
Roadtrip: Whitewater Canal State Historic Site
Guest Roadtripper Christopher Della Rocco will call in on Saturday to tell us about current activities at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, located in the charming 1836 canal village of Metamora, Ind., which is southeast of Indianapolis in the Whitewater Valley in Franklin County.
The site offers a new Whitewater Canal Experience package that allows visitors to experience the best of the site at a discounted rate. And coming up June 29 is a special event called Twilight Time, which features an island-themed catered dinner in Grist Mill Park and twilight cruise on the Ben Franklin III canal boat. Slow and relaxing are the characteristics of this boat ride!
The Whitewater Canal State Historic Site is open for tours of the grist mill and canal boat rides Wednesdays through Sundays. Canal rides are at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. - dependent on canal conditions - the same days. More information can be found online or at (765) 647-6512. Enjoy your summer!
One of the best-known men in America from the 1860s through the 1880s had, earlier in his career, served as the minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. A clergyman, abolitionist, social reformer and speaker, he was not a Hoosier by birth or upbringing.
However, he moved to Indianapolis in 1839 and, while preaching at Second Presbyterian Church, held his first revival meetings and, according to historians, solidified his anti-slavery stance. As a result of his dynamic preaching, he built Second Presbyterian into the largest congregation in the Hoosier capital.
Before coming to Indianapolis, he had been the pastor at a Presbyterian church in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for two years.
The clergyman left Indiana in 1847 and rose to national prominence on the East Coast.
Question: Who was he?
Hint: His sister wrote one of the country's best-selling novels during the 1850s.
(June 1, 2013) - Lost cemeteries have been in the news since Indianapolis police reported the discovery of a human jawbone in Garfield Park on the city's south side. Could the historic park, the oldest public park in Indy, be the site of a lost cemetery?
To explore lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries across the state - and issues associated with the forgotten or neglected burial grounds - Nelson is joined in studio by Jeannie Regan-Dinius, cemetery and burial ground registry coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and pioneer cemetery advocate Theresa Berghoff, an Elwood native who now lives in Indianapolis.
They share details about lost graveyards everywhere from Berne in Adams County and the Madison County community of Leisure, to a site near Kessler Boulevard and Keystone Avenue on the north side of Indy, and Rome in southwestern Indiana.
Nelson and his guests also explore Greenlawn Cemetery, which was founded in 1832 near White River and Kentucky Avenue in Indy. More than 1,600 pioneers had been buried in Greenlawn when, because the graveyard was prone to flooding, city leaders initiated a mass reburial about 155 years ago with the creation of Crown Hill Cemetery, the country's third-largest private cemetery. The site for Crown Hill was chosen in part because it was believed to be the highest ground at the time in Indianapolis and thus not prone to flooding.
In 2008, our guest Jeannie Regan-Dinius helped oversee the move of 33 tombstone and remains of Hoosier pioneers from a mid-1800s cemetery in the Castleton area of Indy to Crown Hill. Shortly after that reburial - which was initiated to allow for the widening of I-69 near its interchange with I-465 - Jeannie joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live! show during our first year on the air.
Now, they also are joined by Theresa Berghoff, a cemetery restorer whose ancestors include Revolutionary and Civil War veterans buried in Wayne County. Theresa, who has helped restore tombstones, reports there are lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries in Richmond, and in the Augusta community in Pike Township on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Augusta Cemetery is the burial site of several Civil War veterans.
In Richmond, Maple Grove Cemetery, which apparently had been the site of more than 500 graves, was closed during the late 1800s. The cemetery's land then became part of Glen Miller Park. Many of Richmond's first settlers were buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.
According to Theresa's research, the first burial ground for white settlers in what became Indianapolis was known as the Plague Cemetery. Established about 1820, the cemetery was the burial site for victims of a malaria epidemic that swept the newly developing state capital, which was partially built on swampland and marshes. The site of the early cemetery was later marked with a large stone next to the intersections of Barnhill and Michigan streets near the IU Medical Center on the IUPUI campus.
According to Jeannie's research, the lost graveyard in Berne was a Mennonite cemetery. She has copies of notices published in local newspapers in 1908 urging relatives to arrange for reburials of their ancestors to allow for road improvements.
During our show, Jeannie shares insights about the protocol that farmers and other property owners should follow if they discover human bones. Nelson and his guests also explore vandalism of cemeteries, as well as the various reasons some graveyards have become lost or forgotten.
Some "learn more" websites:
Roadtrip: Summer nights on the canal
Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society tells us that there are plenty of relaxing summer evenings ahead downtown on the Central Canal with the time-honored favorite, Concerts on the Canal, plus the second year of Museum Nights on the Canal.
On Thursday evenings this summer through Aug. 8, the IHS will host some of the area's best performers. Concerts take place from 6 to 8 p.m., with the exception of the annual Independence Day Bash on July 4 (5 p.m. start), and free seating is available on the grassy slope across the canal.
For June and July concert dates, IHS's Museum Nights on the Canal will offer free Indiana Experience admission, as well as hands-on activities and extra entertainment, from 4 to 8 p.m. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis, along the picturesque, historic Central Canal.
A cemetery in southern Indiana has been called a "tombstone tourist's delight" and an "outdoor sculpture park." The cemetery, which dates to the 1880s and is located near Bedford in Lawrence County, features dozens of personalized monuments that were created for the graves of local residents.
Because the area is known as the "Limestone Capital of the World," generations of highly skilled stone cutters were available to carve sculptures memorializing the deceased. For example, the cemetery, which is on scenic, rolling terrain, includes sculptures of a golfer, a World War I doughboy and the tools of a limestone cutter on various burial sites.
Question: Name the historic cemetery near Bedford.
Historic baseball stadium into apartments
(May 25, 2013) - Apparently it will be the first time in the country that a baseball stadium will be converted into residences. The stadium is historic Bush Stadium in Indianapolis, which was the home ballpark of the Indianapolis Indians for nearly 65 years.
Now the West 16th Street stadium - which had been deteriorating dramatically since the minor-league team left and began playing home games at Victory Field in July 1996 - will be converted into apartments by John Watson of Core Redevelopment LLC.
The Stadium Lofts project - featuring 138 apartments set to open Aug. 1 - has attracted such extensive national interest that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., has contacted John for a mini-exhibit about the stadium re-use.
A former board chairman of Indiana Landmarks and a veteran developer known for transforming historic structures into residences, John is Nelson's studio guest. The previously uncertain fate of Bush Stadium, which was built in 1931 and initially known as Perry Stadium, was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show in 2008, our first year on the air. At that point, the empty stadium was on Indiana Landmarks' list of 10 Most Endangered Places in the state.
In addition to the 138 apartments in the $14 million Stadium Lofts conversion project, John Watson plans to build 144 other apartments - to be known as Stadium Flats - just west of the historic ballpark. He also plans to build an office complex in centerfield of the historic stadium.
According to a recent article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, the Stadium Lofts design "retains the outer shell of the Art Deco building and includes the look of an actual baseball field in the courtyard" for residents of the apartments.
Once beloved, Bush Stadium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was considered such an outstanding example of a vintage ballpark that Hollywood took notice and selected it as the setting for the movie Eight Men Out (1988). The movie focused on the notorious Black Sox cheating scandal in the 1919 World Series.
Bush Stadium also served as the venue for the baseball tournaments during the Pan American Games hosted by Indy in 1987.
However, after the Indians, a Triple-A team in baseball's minor leagues, moved to the newly built Victory Field in White River State Park, an attempt fizzled to make Bush the venue for midget auto racing. (A dirt racetrack had been installed.) A long, slow slide downhill followed.
"Many considered Bush Stadium a lost cause," noted Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks, in a recent issue.
A front-page article in The Indianapolis Star in 2008 was headlined "Decaying diamond." Describing the vacant stadium as an "eyesore," the article noted that the concourse and former clubhouse for the Indians were "littered with trash, abandoned equipment and animal droppings." It described collapsed sections of stadium walls, holes in the grandstand roof and cracks in the steel columns and beams.
Even before the Indians moved to Victory Field, the stadium's deteriorating condition had been a major concern. In 1993, the governing body of minor league baseball announced the team would be moved from the city unless Bush Stadium was improved. Instead, the new Victory Field was constructed.
Fun fact: Bush also was known as Victory Field for many years. During World War II, the stadium's name was switched from Perry to Victory Field as a patriotic gesture. Then it was renamed again in honor of Owen Bush, a longtime manager of the Indians.
In the 1980s and '90s, our guest John Watson, in partnership with developer Carl Van Rooy, redeveloped several historic buildings in downtown Indy into condos or apartments. They included the Real Silk Factory, which opened in the 1920s and manufactured women's silk hose, then parachutes during World War II. John also oversaw the conversion of The Continental at Vermont Place, 410 N. Meridian St., into contemporary apartments.
According to the IBJ article, John is paying "homage" to Bush Stadium's heritage in the apartment development's courtyard by featuring in its design a "permanent baseball diamond made with dirt-colored concrete." He also plans to restore the old scoreboard in right field, which has taken a beating from scores of winters and thunderstorms.
In June 2011, city leaders announced a plan to make the area near Bush Stadium into a magnet for life sciences and high-tech businesses. The area would be known as 16 Tech.
Roadtrip: Chesterfield Spiritualist Camp near Anderson
Suzanne Stanis, director of heritage education and information at Indiana Landmarks, suggests a Roadtrip to historic Camp Chesterfield near Anderson, founded in 1886 and operated by the Indiana Association of Spiritualists.
The camp began as a summer tent camp on the banks of White River and is now a permanent 40-acre settlement. Building boomlets followed World Wars I and II, when grief-stricken people found comfort in the possibility of speaking to relatives killed in battle through resident mediums.
Spiritualism is a religion based on the belief that the spirits of the dead continue to evolve and can communicate with the living. From the 1840s through the 1920s, Spiritualism attracted a wide following, particularly among the educated elite, many of whom were also devout believers in various Protestant faiths.
Camp Chesterfield welcomes visitors to explore the Trail of Religion, a river rock grotto, and the "Toadstools," a meadow of concrete chairs and mini-pedestal tables where mediums held readings in the old days. The Hett Art Gallery and Museum presents a collection of psychic art, spirit photography and precipitated portraits (paintings of the deceased facilitated by mediums). The camp has a welcome center, and you can even spend the night in the 1940s Western Hotel for a very modest rate.
In addition to the Indianapolis Indians, the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Baseball Leagues played many of their home games at Bush Stadium. Before the heyday of the Clowns in the 1940s and '50s, an earlier baseball team of African-American players based in Indianapolis gained national prominence.
The Negro League team, which had a catchy name featuring three letters of the alphabet, was a fan favorite in the 1910s and '20s.
Question: Name the baseball team.
Hollywood icons Red Skelton, Robert Wise and Irene Dunne
(May 18, 2013 - encore presentation) - Aside from being icons of Hollywood with links to Indiana, what could three luminaries - comedian Red Skelton, acclaimed director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music and West Side Story) and 1930s and '40s movie star Irene Dunne - have in common?
All three are the subjects of biographies written by movie historian Wes Gehring, a film professor at Ball State University who joins Nelson in studio for one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives. (Its original air date was Oct. 6, 2012.)
Wes' most recent book is Robert Wise Shadowlands (Indiana Historical Society Press), a biography of the Academy Award-winning director who was born in Winchester and grew up in Connersville.
Not only do Wes and Nelson focus on the life and career of Robert Wise (1914-2005) during the show, they also explore the Hoosier roots and careers of Red Skelton, a native of Vincennes, and Irene Dunne, who grew up in Madison.
Wes delved into their lives in Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask (IHS Press, 2008), which explores, as Wes puts it, the comedian's "hardscrabble beginnings with a shockingly dysfunctional family in southern Indiana" and Irene Dunne: First Lady of Hollywood (Scarecrow Press, 2003). It's a look at the versatile actress, who won critical acclaim for her roles in genres ranging from musicals like Show Boat (1936) to comedies (including The Awful Truth in 1937 with Cary Grant) and dramas such as I Remember Mama (1948).
Red Skelton (1913-1997) achieved major stardom in movies, TV, radio and on Broadway after getting his start in vaudeville shows and, before that, in burlesque. Irene Dunne (1898-1990) was nominated five times for an Academy Award but never won. She also served one term as a delegate to the United Nations.
Like Irene Dunne, Robert Wise was known for astonishing versatility. He directed movies ranging from the science fiction cult classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and the horror movie The Haunting (1963), which is set in a spooky New England mansion to the two musicals for which Wise won Oscars as Best Director, The Sound of Music (1965) and West Side Story (1961).
At Connersville High School, the auditorium has been renamed in Wise's honor. In his biography of the filmmaker, Wes quotes from columns (titled "Wise Crax") he wrote for the high school newspaper.
Phil Gulley on Indiana festivals, summer jobs and other things Hoosier
(May 11, 2013) - As a teenager, Phil Gulley may have had the worst summer job in Indiana history. The popular Hoosier storyteller, humorist and Quaker pastor based in Danville once shared details with Nelson about the distasteful job of his youth.
Tune in to our show to hear the unappetizing specifics, as Nelson is joined by Phil, whose bestselling, nationally distributed books include Front Porch Tales (1997) and Home Town Tales (1998), which were inspired by real people and episodes. He's also the author of Home to Harmony (2000) and other books in his acclaimed series of inspirational and humorous stories about the fictional town of Harmony. It seems to have at least a passing resemblance to Danville.
Known for his folksy style, Phil is a popular speaker and a columnist for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. He also has written non-fiction books such as I Love You Miss Huddleston and Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood (2009).
Because Phil has spoken and written about the propensity of Indiana towns to throw festivals and fairs in honor of just about every product or crop - ranging from persimmons and pork to popcorn - Nelson asks about that topic as well. They also explore the importance of porches.
"I believe all that is wrong with our world can be attributed to the shortage of front porches and the talks we had on them," Phil writes in Porch Talk (2007), a collection of stories that won praise from the likes of Charles Osgood, host of CBS Sunday Morning. "Somewhere around 1950, builders left off the front porch to save money, and we've had nothing but problems ever since."
In Danville, Phil and his wife, Joan, live in a home - with a porch - that's filled with antiques, as well as with furniture Phil made himself. They also own a farmhouse in southern Indiana. The Gulleys are the parents of two sons, Spencer and Sam.
In addition to his books of vignettes about the quirky characters and life lessons associated with small towns, Phil, a graduate of Christian Theological Seminary, has written several books focused on theology. They include If the Church Were Christian (2010) and The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christianity (2011).
He is pastor of Fairfield Friends Meeting in the town of Camby, which is just southwest of Indianapolis. The protagonist in Home to Harmony and the other books in the Harmony series also is a Quaker pastor.
Phil, 52, who grew up in a Catholic family, once told Nelson he had a one-word explanation for why he became a Quaker as a teenager: "Girls."
Apparently there weren't many of them among the parishioners at his family's church in Hendricks County. But a local Friends meeting - as Quaker worship services are called - was attended by several young women whom Phil found attractive.
"So I showed up for the wrong reasons," Phil told Nelson. "But you know something? When I started studying Quaker beliefs - the emphasis on simplicity, pacifism and the tolerance for diverse people - they resonated with me."
In Home Town Tales, he wrote: "When I was young and unattached, the women in my Quaker meeting paid me considerable attention. But then Quaker women tend to take an inordinate interest in people who need help. And I needed help. I was six feet tall and weighed 110 pounds."
Phil's career as an author was launched when, while in seminary in the 1990s, he was serving as the pastor of Irvington Friends Meeting in Indianapolis. His musings for the church's newsletter came to the attention of Paul Harvey Jr., the son of the late, legendary broadcaster. The Harveys showed Phil's tales to a national publisher - and book contracts followed.
Like his columns for Indianapolis Monthly, Phil's vignettes in Home Town Tales explore such topics as the arrival of a new Walmart and include wry humor, self-disclosure and insights about human nature. The inclination of Indiana towns to celebrate a product or crop as an excuse for a summer festival has been the focus of one of his popular essays.
Roadtrip: Ferdinand in Dubois County
Guest Roadtripper William Selm, architectural historian, adjunct faculty member at IUPUI, and expert on German heritage in Indiana, will suggest we take the Roadtrip to Ferdinand, a small town is located in Dubois County in south central Indiana south of Jasper, the county seat.
Ferdinand has real curb appeal, as you can see its main attraction for miles. It's a massive complex atop a hill, the monastery of the Sisters of St. Benedict, first established in 1867.
The town was founded in 1840 by missionary priest, Father Kundek. He named it for Kaiser Ferdinand von Habsburg of the Austrian Empire. Learn more on the show this Saturday!
In addition to Phil Gulley, well-known authors from Indiana who have been guests on Hoosier History Live! include James Alexander Thom, whose books of historical fiction have become national bestsellers. The author of Follow the River, Panther in the Sky and many other books, James Alexander Thom was a guest on this radio show with his wife, Dark Rain, who is of Native American heritage. A tribal historian, Dark Rain also is an author and has collaborated with her husband.
Question: What Native American tribe reflects Dark Rain Thom's heritage?
We will also note that there is an 80th birthday party for James Alexander Thom, as well as for Dark Rain Thom, as part of First Friday at the Vonnegut Library at 340 N. Senate Ave. in Indianapolis on June 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. All are welcome.
'Ask Nelson' and more county name origins
(May 4, 2013) - The last time we turned the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, and let our listeners interview him, callers wanted to know about the late jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, as well as which famous Hoosier has been Nelson's favorite interview subject.
He used to dodge that question but 'fessed up that it's Jane Pauley. Nelson grew up about two blocks from the future TV newswoman on the far eastside of Indianapolis. Following in her wake, he attended every school that she did, from Moorhead Elementary School through Warren Central High School and Indiana University.)
To give our listeners another opportunity to question Nelson, who calls himself a "garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia," Hoosier History Live! occasionally opens the phone lines. Listeners are invited to call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and ask questions of Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history.
As a bonus, Nelson is joined in studio by our attorney friend and WICR colleague Charles Braun, founder and host of Legally Speaking, the longest-running legal advice show on American radio.
Charles, a fellow Hoosier history lover, has extensively researched the origins of county names in Indiana. In September 2010, he joined Nelson for a show about this intriguing topic, but they only scratched the surface of our 92 counties then. (Listeners learned that Marion County is named in honor of Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War hero. Allen County, which includes Charles' hometown of Fort Wayne, derives its name from John Allen, an early American politician, attorney and military leader who was killed in the War of 1812.)
So Charles not only joins listeners in asking Nelson questions, he also responds to queries about our county names. A former state deputy attorney general, Charles is an instructor at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, where he helps train police officers from across Indiana. In 1983, Charles launched Legally Speaking, which airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on WICR.
After he signs off the air - and just before Hoosier History Live! signs on - Charles and Nelson typically can be found near the studio chatting about history-related topics. Nelson loves to share anecdotes and insights, particularly those derived from his expertise. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about the Hoosier capital.
Listeners are encouraged to phone in with questions about famous Hoosiers, including historic figures that Nelson has researched, such as Madam Walker or contemporary notables he has interviewed, including former Indiana Pacers superstar Reggie Miller, astronaut David Wolf and artist Nancy Noel of Zionsville.
Several of the famous Hoosiers featured in Indiana Legends have been Nelson's guests on Hoosier History Live!, including Hoosiers and Rudy screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, jazz great David Baker, novelist Dan Wakefield and former Olympic figure skaters Kim and Wayne Seybold of Marion.
Need more fodder for questions? The histories of sites across the Hoosier capital are the focus of Indianapolis Then and Now, which involved a collaboration among Nelson, photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo Services and photographer Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography.
Do you know what, 100 years ago, could be found on the site underneath the Artsgarden at Circle Centre mall in downtown Indy? Or what infamous structure was located where the Barnes & Noble is now on the IUPUI campus?
Ever wonder about what flourished on the current site of Butler University in the early 1900s, back when the campus was still located in the Irvington neighborhood? This is your opportunity to call in - the number is (317) 788-3314 - during the live show this Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. ET, and ask Nelson to share insights about the then-to-now changes.
Questions about the derivation of any county names are fair game for Charles, our in-house expert at WICR-FM. Although some county names are easy to figure out - Ohio County in far-southeastern Indiana, for example, or Wabash County in the north - others have names that are much more obscure. Call in and ask about the ones that always have perplexed you.
Roadtrip: 'Morgan's Raid' online video game
Guest Roadtripper Ron Morris, professor of history at Ball State University in Muncie, suggests that we take an online Roadtrip to https://sites.google.com/site/morgansraidgame/, where we can play a video game simulating Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's Raid across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio during the Civil War. The video game is free and available to all.
Those playing the game learn Indiana geography and history, and as the game unfolds, players allocate resources in order to continue their raid, and reputation points are earned for successful actions that cause chaos across southern Indiana.
The game was developed by Ball State students under the direction of Paul V. Gestwicki, Ph.D. in computer science, and our guest Roadtripper, Ron Morris, Ph.D. in history, all of Ball State.
This game is a frequent learning tool for fourth- and eighth-grade students in Indiana who are learning about the Civil War.
Our Roadtripper is a former Hoosier History Live! guest. He spoke about Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's Civil War Governor, and he also is renovating and planning to move in to Morton's home in Centerville.
Among the famous Hoosiers featured in Nelson Price's Indiana Legends book is a broadcaster and business leader who became a pioneer in cable TV. A Lafayette native, he attended Purdue University and got his start in local TV in his hometown.
He went on to become the founder and CEO of C-SPAN, a public affairs network that began on a shoestring budget in 1979.
C-SPAN, which started out focusing on live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives, enjoyed dramatic growth. So the Indiana native launched C-SPAN 2 in 2000 and also became the host of shows such as Booknotes, a weekly series of in-depth interviews. He interviewed hundreds of the nation's top politicians, historians, authors and newsmakers, but he always has been known for his calm, low-key demeanor.
Question: Who is the famous Hoosier?
Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse, and True tall tales from Indiana: 2 classic shows
(April 27, 2013 - encore presentations) - According to many sports historians, the greatest athlete of the early 1900s was a Hoosier - and he wasn't a baseball player, a bicyclist, a boxer or even a human being. Dan Patch was a racehorse who became a top national celebrity, never lost a race on the grand circuit of harness racing and was hailed as the "Epitome of Excellence in American Sports."
Other Hoosier animals, although far less famous than the renowned racehorse, nevertheless became fodder for folklore. In Howe, Ind., the town character was known as the "Skunk Woman" because she kept skunks as pets. And the talk of Goshen once was a rooster described as "over-hormoned."
In Churubusco, generations of residents have debated alleged sightings of a giant turtle. Accounts of the "Skunk Woman", the resilient rooster and the alleged turtle (often called the "Beast of 'Busco") were syndicated across the state during the 1950s.
These two topics - Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse and True tall tales from 1950s Indiana - are the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you can enjoy back-to-back, half-hour shows from our archives.
Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse
For the first classic show (original air date: April 7, 2012), Nelson is joined in studio by two guests with special expertise about Dan Patch, who had gangly, crooked legs at his birth in 1896. He was foaled in a barn in Oxford, a western Indiana town that continues to celebrate an annual Dan Patch Festival in honor of the famous son; the 2013 festival is planned for Sept. 6-8.
Nelson's guests are Oxford resident Bob Glaspie, who owns a vast collection of Dan Patch memorabilia, and Gerald Waite, a lecturer emeritus at Ball State University who has written extensively about the legendary racehorse.
The superstar eventually endorsed an array of products ranging from sleds to washtubs, children's wagons, a pocket knife and a clothes ringer. Dan Patch first made headlines by stunning spectators at the Benton County Fairgrounds with an incredible win that was a sign of his unbroken streak of victories. The barn where "the Patch" was foaled and raised still stands in Oxford and is owned by the grandson of the racehorse's initial owner. The wonder horse died in 1916 in Minnesota, where his final owner lived.
Dan Patch's dominance hurt betting at racetracks because, if the undefeated champ was entered, everyone knew who would win. Other prominent owners also didn't want their racehorses "to submit to the humiliation of being beaten every time," according to an award-winning cover story written by our guest Gerald Waite for Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine. So for several years, "the Patch" raced against a stopwatch, essentially competing against himself to set new world records.
Our guest Bob Glaspie, a farmer who grew up in Benton County, owns one of the historic stopwatches, as well as more than 300 other pieces of memorabilia. They include Dan Patch-endorsed billiard chalk, children’s wagons (they came in three different styles) and a straight razor.
In retirement, Dan Patch enjoyed railroad tours to meet adoring fans across the country. He traveled in a specially designed, private railcar with his portrait on the exterior.
True tall tales from 1950s Indiana
During the second classic show (original air date: April 21, 2012), the focus is on true tales, including the "Skunk Woman" (in addition to keeping skunks as pets, she seldom bathed) that were syndicated across the state during the 1950s by Al Spiers, a Michigan City-based columnist and editor. Although Al died in 1994, his columns about true tall tales have been collected in a book, Hoosier Lore (Brooks Publications), put together by his daughter, Sally Spiers.
An Indianapolis civic leader who is retired after a career in city and state governments, Sally joins Nelson in studio to explore the colorful critters, people and towns that her father described.
Sally was growing up in Michigan City during the era when her father was writing the columns, including the one about the "over-hormoned" rooster. During the 1950s, roosters routinely were injected with female hormones so they would shun hens, stop crowing, eat hearty and be tender. Despite numerous injections, a resilient rooster in Goshen named Elco resumed fraternizing with hens as well as emitting "cock-a-doodle-doos" - all in front of a stunned Jaycees event.
Some of the tales in Hoosier Lore had their origins long before the 1950s. The "Skunk Woman" (whose real name was Chrissy Hand), for example, died in LaGrange County in 1925. When Al Spiers visited 30 years later, though, he was able to interview many residents of Howe who had known the "Skunk Woman." She typically kept about half a dozen of the critters ("not de-skunked skunks, but fully equipped specimens," as Al wrote) wandering around in her house.
Al Spiers, an inductee into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, was editor of the Michigan City News-Dispatch, as well as a human interest columnist. He wrote about the "turtle tizzy" in Churubusco involving residents who claimed to have seen a giant turtle in Fulks Lake beginning in 1949.
Even though the lake had been partially drained and skin divers deployed (with no confirmations of the turtle's presence) by the time Al Spiers showed up in the mid-1950s, folklore about a massive "Beast of 'Busco" persisted. At dusk, Spiers drove to Fulks Lake, where he noticed, as he put it, a "wild and spooky section - swampy, full of tangled, dead trees and brush, silent and brooding. It looks like ... a set for a movie starring prehistoric monstrosities."
Derek Daly on Indy-car fans overseas, son Conor and more
(April 20, 2013) - We're going to varroom back to when former Indy-car and Formula One driver Derek Daly was growing up in Ireland. That's because Dublin native Derek Daly, now 60, joins Nelson in studio to assess how the interest level overseas in the Indianapolis 500 - as well as in NASCAR racing - has evolved during the last half-century.
Now a popular motorsports commentator on TV and radio - Derek has worked for media ranging from ESPN to Fox, CBS and the Speed Channel - he also has a son who is making headlines and blazing a path. So Nelson asks Derek, who has lived in Noblesville for many years, about Conor Daly, 21, who has been hired by A.J. Foyt Racing as a rookie driver in next month's Indy 500.
Our guest owns Derek Daly Academy, which coaches, evaluates and manages young motorsports drivers. His career as a race driver spanned 17 years and included competing in the Indy 500 six times. He also is the author of Race to Win (Motorsports Publishing, 2008), which features an introduction by his friend Mario Andretti.
Back in the early 1980s, foreign-born drivers like Derek and Mario were something of a novelty in the Indy 500 - although competitors during the 1960s had included popular Jimmy Clark from Scotland and Graham Hill from England, the winner of the 1966 race. Eventually, the infrequency of foreign drivers changed dramatically, almost reversing itself during the last 20 years. For example, the field of 33 drivers in the 2011 race included four from Brazil alone.
So what has all of this meant to the Indy-car fan base overseas? Do Derek's native land and other European countries still reserve most of their passion for Formula One? Is NASCAR even on their radar yet?
We explore that and more with Derek, including the remarkable rise of his son. Conor, an Indianapolis native and graduate of Heritage Christian High School, wasn't even born in 1985, when Derek had his best finish (12th) in the 500 Mile Race. So far, Conor has spent much of this year overseas himself, competing in Europe and Malaysia in lower-level racing series that are considered preludes for advancement to Formula One.
Derek Daly is his son's manager. After retiring from a career as a driver that included starting on the front row with Mario for the Indy 500 in 1984, Derek launched his successful business and broadcasting careers. He's also a popular motivational speaker.
In 1990, Derek began a long relationship with WISH-TV/Channel 8 in Indianapolis, serving as the expert racing analyst for the CBS-TV affiliate. This September, he will celebrate his 20th year as an American citizen.
Derek's racing career began in his homeland, when he won championships in Ireland during the 1970s. His later triumphs included winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the premier endurance races in the U.S., in 1991 and '92.
In the early years of the Indianapolis 500, foreign-born drivers like Derek were frequent competitors.
"Striving for the 500 to be a truly international affair from the very beginning, overseas entries always had been sought," Speedway historian Donald Davidson writes in Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500.
He notes, though, that in the first two years of the 500 - 1911 and 1912 - none of the overseas drivers came primarily to compete in the race, "having been either in the country on an extended basis or else on their way to applying for citizenship."
French drivers, however, were the top four finishers in the 1914 race, and various Chevrolet brotherscompeted in the late 1910s and early '20s. (According to Donald Davidson's book, older brothers Louis and Arthur Chevrolet were born in Switzerland, while kid brother Gaston Chevrolet, who won the 500 Mile Race in 1920 at age 23, was born in France.)
With Derek, we explore the extent to which the race intrigued overseas fans during that era - as well as during subsequent eras when foreign drivers were rarities. And we get personal, with Nelson asking our special guest about his evolving awareness of the Indianapolis 500 as a boy in Ireland.
Hoosier History Live! bonus: You can listen online to Nelson's 2011 interview with Donald Davidson about the Speedway's 100-year history.
In the 1980s and early '90s - several years before Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia and Venezuelan drivers E.J. Viso and Milka Duno made their debuts at the Indianapolis 500 - one of the most popular foreign-born race drivers was a native of Colombia.
He nearly won the Indy 500 twice during the 1980s but was the runner up both times. In September 1987, he was nearly killed in a wreck during tire testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was in a coma for more than two weeks at Methodist Hospital and spent several months in recovery. Even so, the driver from Colombia returned to win the pole position in the 1992 Indianapolis 500. But he had retired from racing in the Indy 500 by 2001.
Question: Name the Colombian-born race driver.
Roadtrip: Historic Pendleton in Madison County
Guest Roadtripper and historian-at-large Glory- June Greiff recommends we take short trip from Indianapolis up the Pendleton Pike (SR 67) to the small historic town of, surprisingly enough, Pendleton! Glory says it's a great place to play hooky for an afternoon.
Falls Park in Pendleton is lovely, with trails, charming rock features built over 80 years ago, and a large duck pond with a stone "lighthouse" recently restored. On weekends, drop in to the Pendleton Historical Museum that overlooks the falls; it's free. The park is only a couple of blocks from the historic downtown, which is pleasant to stroll and offers nice antique shops, a coffee bistro and many marvelous old buildings. The New Deal-era post office features a mural inside.
Glory recommends lunch or supper at Jimmie's Dairy Bar on the edge of town on Pendleton Pike near Water Street. The sign says they offer the "best barbecue in Indiana." They also offer ice cream sodas, which, as our Roadtripper notes, are hard to find these days!
Jazz recording heritage in Richmond
(April 13, 2013) - Memphis, Chicago, New York City and Nashville, Tenn., have long been hailed for the significant roles their recording studios played in the boom of American popular music. Why do some say Richmond in far-eastern Indiana almost should be mentioned in the same breath?
Consider that during the 1920s the parade of future musical legends who traveled to the town - specifically, to the Starr Piano Company and its Gennett Records division - included Louis Armstrong, Indiana native Hoagy Carmichael, cowboy singer Gene Autry and Jelly Roll Morton, who recorded nine piano solos at the Richmond studio in 1924.
"Gennett was among the first record companies to cater to both the segregated white and black record markets," according to Rick Kennedy, author of Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, whose book, first published by IU Press in 1994, is being released in an expanded, revised edition.
Rick is among Nelson's guests, as are Bob Jacobsen and David Fulton, president and treasurer, respectively, of the Starr-Gennett Foundation, a nonprofit that is helping Richmond reclaim its remarkable heritage in recording jazz, blues and country music. David Fulton also is chancellor emeritus of Indiana University-East in Richmond.
To honor the city's rich but frequently overlooked heritage - which ended with the Great Depression - the Starr-Gennett Foundation has established a Gennett Records Walk of Fame and an annual music festival in September near the Whitewater River.
That's also near where the riverside piano factory and recording studio made so much musical history.
Performers who recorded on the Gennett label - either at its Richmond studio or one in Manhattan - included Duke Ellington, Joe "King" Oliver and legendary cornet and piano player Bix Beiderbecke, who befriended and influenced a young Hoagy Carmichael. The musical director and lead soloist of the Wolverine Orchestra (usually known as the Wolverines by jazz enthusiasts), Beiderbecke died at age 28 in 1931.
As Rick puts it in Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, Beiderbecke "was immortalized by musicians and journalists as ... the sensitive musical genius who drank himself to death before the world could fully recognize his command of a misunderstood art form." (Beiderbecke's tragic life loosely inspired the 1950 movie Young Man with a Horn, in which Hoagy played a character based on himself.)
The musical history in Richmond accelerated in the 1890s when piano retailer Henry Gennett bought an interest in Starr, an existing piano company. Henry Gennett had owned music stores in Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis and other cities. Under his leadership, the piano factory also began producing player pianos, piano rolls and, eventually, phonographs.
The saga that unfolded, according to Rick's book, included a legal fight over patent infringement between Gennett and mighty Victor Records, which in 1917 had produced the world's first jazz records. (They featured the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.) Gennett was joined by other small labels. They prevailed in 1922, breaking Victor's stranglehold, "resulting in new record labels and greater competition," as Rick puts it.
Later in 1922, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings made their recording debut at the Richmond studio.
"Ragtime, jazz, blues, gospel, country and other 'new' sounds swelled the mainstream of popular music with the help of instruments and recordings produced by Starr and Gennett for international distribution," according to the Starr-Gennett Foundation.
Until 1934, the Gennett studio produced thousands of recordings, including some that are considered among the greatest jazz recordings of all time.
According to a history included with vintage recordings re-released in recent years on CDs titled Gennett Records Greatest Hits Collection, Hoagy Carmichael first recorded his classic Stardust at Gennett in 1927; it was released to the public early in the following year.
Although not a hit initially, Stardust eventually became "one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century."
Hoagy Carmichael often composed songs about places across America such as states or cities, including Can't Get Indiana Off My Mind and Memphis in June. For years, debate ensued about whether one of his songs was about a place or about one of his sisters. She happened to have the same first name as a place.
The Hoagy Carmichael song - which evokes a mood of yearning - has been recorded by many top performers.
Question: What was the name of Hoagy's sister?
Roadtrip: Levi Coffin House in Wayne County
Just up the road from Richmond and its Starr-Gennett sites is the Levi Coffin House, located in what is now Fountain City on U.S. 27. The house is Indiana's most famous "way station" on the Underground Railroad, and before the Civil War, Quaker owner Levi Coffin and his wife, Catharine, helped as many as 2,000 former slaves escape to freedom in the free states and Canada.
One of the many formerly enslaved persons who hid in the Coffin house was "Eliza," whose story is told in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Governors of Indiana
(April 6, 2013) - "Historically, the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the strength of the state legislature and in contrast to the office of governor in some other states. Over time ... the office has been transformed into one with considerably more power."
So begins a book co-edited by two distinguished Hoosiers who are Nelson's studio guests for a show exploring the colorful array of Indiana's chief executives since statehood in 1816 - as well as various patterns among the political leaders who have held the top office.
Our guests are Linda Gugin, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair, a journalism professor at ISU. They co-edited The Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), an anthology to which dozens of writers contributed profiles of the Hoosier state's leaders.
Our first governor, Jonathan Jennings, was a longtime foe of slavery who resigned in 1822 after being elected to Congress; he struggled with alcoholism in his later years. During our show, Nelson and his guests explore how Jennings and other early Indiana governors - including William Hendricks of Madison (our third governor) and Paris Dunning of Bloomington (our ninth) - dealt with slavery-related issues.
In their book, Professor Gugin and Professor St. Clair identify the two "most powerful governors" as Civil War-era leader Oliver Perry Morton, a Republican from Centerville, and Franklin native Paul V. McNutt, a Democrat who was the state's chief executive during the Great Depression. (Gov. Morton, an ally of President Lincoln, was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last December. Our guest was historic preservationist and Ball State professor Ron Morris, who has purchased Morton's house.)
We explore how Morton, McNutt and other governors handled conflicts with the state legislature.
By the way, Morton had lost his first race for governor, in 1856, during a bitter election in which, according to our guests' book, Democrats resorted to "overt appeals to racism." The election demonstrated "the polarized nature of the state at the time," with the Democratic candidate, New Albany lawyer and orator Ashbel Willard, prevailing in almost all of the southern counties and Morton in the north.
In 1860, Willard became the first of four Indiana governors to die in office. The most recent was Corydon newspaper publisher and state legislator Frank O'Bannon in 2003.
During our show, Nelson and his guests explore how various civil rights and social justice issues have been handled by governors. A former first lady, Zerelda Wallace, became a leading suffragist during the 1870s and '80s, lobbying the legislature for women's rights and founding suffrage groups in Indianapolis. She was the second wife of David Wallace, who had served as governor in the 1830s. His sons from his first marriage included Lew Wallace, who went on to write the international bestseller Ben-Hur.
During the 1920s, Gov. Ed Jackson, a Republican lawyer from Lafayette, was generally perceived to have been controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. The notorious Grand Dragon of the KKK, D.C. Stephenson, befriended and endorsed Jackson. The governor refused calls to resign when Stephenson was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of a statehouse worker who had accused him of raping her.
Other governors had opposed the Klan, including Warren McCray of Kentland. In the early 1920s, he vetoed a proposed "Klan Day," which would have featured "a nighttime cross burning at the Indiana State Fair," according to The Governors of Indiana. But McCray's reputation was tarnished in 1924 when he was charged with selling and distributing fraudulent promissory notes. He served more than three years in a federal penitentiary in Atlanta but eventually received a full pardon from President Herbert Hoover.
Two governors, both Democrats, went on to become U.S. vice presidents. They were Thomas A. Hendricks of Shelby County, who was elected veep under Grover Cleveland in 1884 (Hendricks died after eight months in office), and Thomas R. Marshall of Columbia City, who served under Woodrow Wilson and is best remembered for his witticisms, including: "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar."
(Indiana's first territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, decades later was elected president after moving to Ohio.)
Ever since Indiana shifted its capital from Corydon to the new city of Indianapolis during the 1820s, the governor's mansion has been located in various sites and in various houses. Beginning in the 1970s, a historic mansion at 4750 N. Meridian St. has served as the governor's residence.
However, the first governor's mansion in Indy was built during the 1820s at a different site. The mansion was unused by several governors and their wives, who refused to move into it. Finally, the mansion fell into disrepair and was demolished.
Question: Where was it located?
Roadtrip: 'Follow the North Star' at Conner Prairie
"Rotating Roadtripper" Rosemary Arnold will be calling in on Saturday to tell us about Conner Prairie's "Follow the North Star" program, which enables visitors age 12 and older a nighttime experience of being a fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad, fleeing from captivity and risking all.
Since 1998, nearly 60,000 people have participated in this 90-minute program, which offers a powerful diversity training experience. This month the program will be offered April 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27, and Rosemary Arnold of Conner Prairie Interactive History Park directs the program.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Indiana houses he designed
(March 30, 2013) - Probably the best-known is Samara, a single-level "Usonian" house in West Lafayette built in the 1950s for a young faculty couple at Purdue University. But the world's most famous architect of the 20th century - and, arguably, its most flamboyant, influential and imperial - also designed other houses across Indiana, including at least one in his trademark Prairie style.
In addition to Samara, which now is owned by a private foundation established by the owner of the house (who continues to live in it), Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed houses in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Gary, Marion and other Hoosier cities.
To share insights about these homes and Indiana-related aspects of the architect, Nelson is joined by two guests. They are Linda Eales, associate curator of Samara (which was built for Dr. John Christian, a Purdue bio-nucleonics professor, and his late wife Catherine), and Scott W. Perkins, a nationally known Oklahoma-based expert on Wright, as well as on the interiors of the buildings, for many of which the architect designed furniture and textiles.
"He was an authentic American genius, a man who believed he was destined to redesign the world, creating everything anew. Over the course of his long career, Wright designed over 800 buildings, including such revolutionary structures as the Guggenheim Museum, the Johnson Wax Building, Fallingwater, Unity Temple and Taliesin. Wright's buildings and ideas changed the way we live, work and see the world around us."
He wasn't a Hoosier - and, in fact, never even visited the sites of several of the Indiana houses he designed, including Samara. (The Christians visited the architect at his Wisconsin studios and consulted by phone, photos and mail.) Samara has a sunken living room, cabinets and other furnishings designed by Wright; even the china is patterned after some he designed for the Imperial Hotel in Japan. It's open for group tours by appointment.
Wright's son, John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), who also was an architect, lived for more than 20 years in Long Beach, a LaPorte County town (pop. 4,500) on the shore of Lake Michigan. According to a 2005 article in the Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks, the younger Wright designed 13 buildings in the town before he moved to California in 1947; some of the structures "brought touches of the Prairie style pioneered by his father."
Frank Lloyd Wright, a Wisconsin native, established his career while working in a studio in Oak Park, Ill. Known for his intimidating personality, Wright periodically fell out of public favor because of his sensational personal life. His first scandal hit the headlines in 1909 when Wright abandoned his family - including his first wife (John Lloyd Wright’s mother) and several children - to move to Europe with a client with whom he was carrying on a torrid affair. (A second scandal ensued in 1914 when she was murdered by a deranged, ax-swinging servant in Wisconsin, where the couple had re-settled.)
Most of Wright's homes in Indiana - including Samara - were designed in the 1950s when he was enjoying a final, spectacular revival of his career. Wright derived the name Samara from a name for the winged seed of a pinecone.
According to the book 99 Historic Homes of Indiana (IU Press), Wright selected Samara's exterior bricks from the Indiana town of Attica. He also designed everything from many of the three-bedroom home's furnishings to its landscaping. Fun fact: Samara does not have a garage. That's because Wright disliked them and insisted the Christians instead have a carport, which he often is credited with inventing, or at least popularizing.
When Samara was finished in 1956, Wright was 88 years old. He was working on several projects when he died a few months before his 92nd birthday.
Some other tidbits:
One of Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughters was an Indiana native who became a famous movie actress. She was born in 1923 in Michigan City. Her mother, Catherine, was one of Wright's daughters.
Catherine and her family, including the granddaughter, did not live in Michigan City for very long. By the time the granddaughter was 10 years old, they had moved to the New York City area. The granddaughter made her Broadway debut when she was barely in her teens.
She went on to star in dozens of classic movies during the 1940s and '50s, even winning an Academy Award. Among her movies is a blockbuster frequently shown on TV during the Easter season.
Question: Name the famous actress - and native Hoosier - who was Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughter.
Roadtrip: 'Preservation at the Crossroads'
The Hoosier History Live! Roadtrip report? Oh yes, that's a live call-in report about a cool place to visit in the Hoosier state, or a festival, or an event coming up. A fond farewell to Chris Gahl, whose extensive schedule as vice president of marketing and communications at Visit Indy has made it necessary for him to sign off from his additional duties. And our sincere thanks to Visit Indy for continuing to provide prizes for our History Mystery winners.
Coming up next, the Rotating Roadtrippers! Yes, we are asking several of you to step up and report your favorite spots and activities around the state.
Up this Saturday is Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography, who chairs the Hospitality Committee for Preservation at the Crossroads. The annual preservation conference for the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be holding its annual conference in Indy this fall, from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. Hear more on the show this Saturday, and click here to watch a video that puts Indy in a whole new light!
Amelia Earhart and her Indiana connections
(March 23, 2013 - encore presentation) - She vanished more than 75 years ago over the South Pacific while attempting to fly around the world in a Lockheed Electra 10E twin-engine airplane sponsored by Purdue University. That's just one of the connections between famous aviator Amelia Earhart and the Hoosier state.
She was particularly associated with Purdue, which has the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts associated with the famous aviator, whose disappearance in 1937 remains a mystery.
To explore the sky-high stack of Earhart links to Indiana, Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, an aviation expert, joins Nelson in studio for one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives. (Its original air date was Sept. 15, 2012.) Our salute to Women's History Month makes a re-broadcast of this show particularly appropriate.
During the final two years before Amelia Earhart vanished, she was a sort of visiting celebrity-in-residence on the West Lafayette campus, where she was a career counselor for women students, and where she lectured and conducted conferences. She also was an adviser to the university’s department of aeronautics.
Despite her fame, "Lady Lindy" chose to stay in a women's dorm (then known as South Hall, today it's part of Duhme Hall) and eat with students in the cafeteria.
In 1935, the same year she joined the Purdue faculty, Earhart visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She became the first woman to receive an official position during the Indianapolis 500. serving as a race official. Earhart also demonstrated a parachute training device before the race began.
The pioneer aviator was just 39 years old when she disappeared with her navigator, Fred Noonan, while flying from New Guinea to the Howland Islands. She was attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.
Purdue's sponsorship of her Lockheed Electra included arranging for financial assistance from Indianapolis business leader J.K. Lilly and other donors. The huge collection of Earhart memorabilia at Purdue includes some of her flight suits, logs and diaries, lecture notes, poems and even a pre-marital agreement with her husband, George Putnam.
Amelia Earhart wasn't a native Hoosier. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart earned her pilot’s license in 1922 and within a month set an altitude record (14,000 feet) for a woman aviator.
Subsequently, her list of record-breaking achievements included becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, and two years later setting a speed record (181 mph) for a woman in flight.
Our guest John Norberg has written extensively about Earhart's colorful life. During our show, he confirms various accounts about the impact of her stay on the Purdue campus. They include an appeal by women students to administrators after they observed the celebrity aviator in slacks. Under a dress code enforced in the mid-1930s, women students at Purdue were prohibited from wearing slacks.
Birds across Indiana
(March 16, 2013) - Have you heard birds chirping?
Anticipating the arrival of spring, Hoosier History Live! will swoop into all things related to birds across the state. Our show will feature the return appearance of a guest who is making his own history.
Don Gorney, a longtime volunteer board member of Amos Butler Audubon Central Indiana who is known for his bird hikes that often are based at Fort Harrison State Park, has just become the first full-time staffer in the 75-year history of the nonprofit.
Don joined Nelson in studio to share insights about our bird heritage in late November 2009 for a show that primarily focused on winter-related aspects of our feathered friends. This time around, with spring imminent, there is much more turf to cover.
During the show, we explore the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County near the town of Linton. According to our guest Don Gorney, about 8,000 acres of restored marsh and prairie were drained in the 1800s for the site. It has become a "hot spot" for bird watching because of the sheer numbers of species and individual birds.
"In late February and early March, there were thousands of geese, over 15,000 Sandhill Cranes, 200 American White Pelicans, 25,000 ducks and nesting bald eagles" seen at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Don reports.
In his new post as Amos Butler Audubon's director of bird conservation and education, Don will be an advocate for bird conservation and lead the Lights Out Indy initiative designed to prevent the nighttime deaths of birds as they migrate over the Hoosier capital. He also will oversee a Wings Over Indy project that's designed to benefit - hold on to your hat - chimney swifts.
In addition, Don will be working with the city of Indy to increase awareness of the Indianapolis Birding Trail. Expected to be unveiled later this spring, the non-linear trail will highlight existing sites in Marion County where birds can be found.
"Trail sites," he says, "will be designated by signage, and narrative text will be available via a website and smartphone app."
Our guest Cliff Chapman, who oversees land management for the Land Trust's preserves located throughout central Indiana, lives in Indy on a nature preserve on the White River. He describes himself as "passionate about birds," noting he has traveled across the country to seek out "rare birds in sometimes beautiful and sometimes difficult areas."
Amos Butler Audubon describes itself as a "grassroots chapter" of the National Audubon Society. Don, a naturalist who has worked as a bank examiner, began serving on the chapter's board in 2009. He recommends www.ebird.org as a convenient way to keep bird checklists and provide important data to researchers.
During our show, Don, Cliff and Nelson also explore:
Roadtrip: Urban Homestead at Flower and Patio Show
Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy will be calling in with a live report from the 55th annual Indiana Flower and Patio Show, which runs through March 17 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
Amidst the lush flowers, landscaping and innovative building materials you get to see every year, new this year is the "The Urban Homestead" - an on-site primer for adopting and living a sustainable (think small house!) lifestyle.
The "Eco Cottage" on display sits on a 10,000-square-foot "city lot" inside Expo Hall, complete with rain gardens, rain barrels, wind turbines, wood-burning boiler, chicken coops with live chickens, raised-bed gardens and beehives. Learn more when you tune in this Saturday!
Birds - majestic, colorful or wise - serve as the mascots for sports teams at some Indiana high schools. At one high school, the sports teams are known as the Owls. At another, they are the Cardinals, in honor of our state bird. Other high schools have as their mascots the Blackhawks, the Eagles and the Golden Eagles.
Question: Name just ONE of the Indiana high schools with one of these bird-themed mascots.
This week's prize is a gift certificate to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, courtesy of Visit Indy, as well as two tickets to You Are There, where you can see the new 1913: A City Under Water interactive exhibit that opens March 26, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Flood of 1913, worst in state history
(March 9, 2013) - "How could a disaster that claimed 1,000 lives be forgotten?"
So asks Trudy E. Bell, a science writer and author based in Ohio, in a recent blog post in advance of the 100th anniversary of what is generally considered to be the greatest flood in Indiana history. Almost every Hoosier town near water - whether a river, lake or even a pond - found itself overwhelmed by the catastrophic Flood of 1913, which occurred on Easter weekend in late March.
Even worse, Terre Haute had just been hit by a tornado that caused an estimated $1 million to $3 million in damage (in 1913 dollars), according to an article Trudy wrote for Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine.
"Levees," she reports, "burst all over the state - on the Mississinewa River in Marion, on the White River in Muncie, on the Wabash River in Lafayette, and on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg - flooding the cities they were supposed to protect."
Indianapolis became "the single largest city ... badly devastated by the flood," Trudy notes.
She is among Nelson's guests for this show about the natural disaster, which usually is remembered - if at all - because of the deaths of nearly 500 caged lions, tigers and other circus animals who drowned in Peru.
Others know about the horrific flood because of accounts about cadets from Culver Military Academy who undertook search and rescue operations in Logansport and other Hoosier communities.
In addition to Trudy, Nelson is joined in studio by Eloise Batic and Angela Giacomelli, two historical researchers with the Indiana Historical Society. They are helping put together an upcoming exhibit, titled "You Are There 1913: A City Under Water," that opens March 26 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.
Re-enactors at the exhibit will portray historic Hoosiers, including Frederick Ayres, the president of the department store founded by his father; he was a key figure on the Indy relief committee for the Flood of 1913.
Another re-enactor will portray a bicycle-bound postal carrier on the city's west side who took photos of the flood that indicate he was in the middle of the chaos when a levee broke on the Morris Street Bridge.
Amid the torrential rain and flooding in Peru, according to Trudy's article in Traces, more than 3,000 "instantly homeless" residents tried to jam into the hilltop Miami County Courthouse. It became a relief center akin to the Superdome in New Orleans decades later during Hurricane Katrina. Inside the courthouse, 12 people suffocated to death from the overcrowding. Outside, other Peru residents endured a night of pelting rain as they huddled in hopes of gaining entry - and watched in terror as the floodwaters crept ever higher.
By the end of the horrific flood, about 200 Hoosiers had died, with 200,000 others left homeless. (The total fatality count of nearly 1,000 includes deaths in other states.)
A note about the description of the 1913 flood as the state's worst:
According to several sources, some areas of the state - particularly in central and southwestern Indiana - actually endured worse flooding in June 2008. For example, Columbus experienced a flood then that was more than 6 inches higher than the March 1913 record. The flood in June 2008 forced the evacuation of 250 patients and employees at Columbus Regional Hospital, where total damage estimates exceeded $210 million.
Even so, the consensus of most experts is that the Flood of 1913 (which occurred on Easter weekend) has been the worst statewide, particularly in terms of deaths, loss of homes and the extent of the impact on daily lives. In Indiana, the full devastation began on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in March of 1913, following what Trudy describes in her Traces article as a winter that had been "unusually warm and wet."
She writes that record, "hurricane-force" winds began sweeping across the state, blowing down barns, uprooting trees, whisking the roofs off buildings and downing power lines. Next came relentless, driving rains for days.
Gov. Samuel Ralston of Indiana appealed for help to the American Red Cross, which Trudy points out was rather small in 1913 and "still relatively unknown in the field of disaster relief." The governor's wife, Jennie Ralston, helped create a women's committee that provided relief for flood sufferers in Indianapolis.
At the Indiana History Center, the "You Are There" exhibit will focus on Wulf's Hall Relief Station, a saloon on the west side of downtown Indy that was quickly converted into a relief center. A re-enactor will portray the head rabbi of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, which also was heavily involved with relief efforts.
On Trudy's website, she recounts how Indiana Reformatory inmates became heroes by helping save the town of Jeffersonville. Temporarily granted freedom by the reformatory's superintendent, the convicted felons battled "night and day for more than a week" to bolster two levees against the Ohio River's surging floodwaters. After the ordeal, Jeffersonville residents honored the prisoners with a lavish banquet.
In addition to the upcoming exhibit at the History Center, other exhibits related to the Flood of 1913 include:
Roadtrip: Historic New Carlisle on Lincoln Highway
Public historian Glory-June Greiff will be Roadtripping for us this Saturday. Her pick is New Carlisle in northern Indiana. It was established in 1835 on the Michigan Road and is also crossed by another scenic byway, the Lincoln Highway, so this trip will get take you to two historic roads for the price of one.
The Old Republic on the hill is the town's signature home and is headquarters of Historic New Carlisle, Inc. The home also houses a small museum of local artifacts and displays. New Carlisle also boasts a historic district of six blocks, including a picturesque downtown, and offers a great variety of historic styles of architecture.
Glory-June also tells us that New Carlisle has a slew of interesting restaurants, including Moser's Austrian Café, a real Irish pub, Millers Home Cafe for old fashioned comfort food, or The Diner for, well, your basic diner.
Our Roadtripper tells us if you're looking for more vigorous walking or communing with nature, nearby is Bendix Woods County Park (which formerly was the Studebaker Proving Grounds!) or the lovely Spicer Lake Nature Preserve. Enjoy!
In March 1913, just before the great flood that overwhelmed the entire state of Indiana, the town of New Castle was the setting for a tragedy that became a national media sensation for years and remains a mystery to this day. A 9-year-old girl suddenly vanished in a mystery that some have called Indiana's equivalent of the case of JonBenet Ramsey in a subsequent era.
The disappearance of the girl in New Castle in broad daylight - at about noon on March 20, 1913 - resulted in a national search, far-fetched theories about who might have abducted her, suspicion against her parents and massive media coverage.
Her mysterious disappearance even inspired two popular songs of the era. For decades, many parents would warn their children to take precautions while walking to school, playing outdoors or running errands - or else they could end up like the girl from New Castle who was never found.
Question: Name the girl who vanished in March 1913 in New Castle.
This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27, in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to You Are There, where you can see the new 1913: A City Under Water interactive exhibit, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Hoosier women pioneers in media
(March 2, 2013) - The state's first statue erected to honor a woman is in Turkey Run State Park and pays tribute to a journalist. The Woman's Press Club of Indiana celebrates a milestone, its 100th anniversary, this year. And the challenges confronted by women in Indiana media - from reporters and radio newscasters to newspaper owners - have been researched by their counterparts today.
So, as Hoosier History Live! salutes Women's History Month, we will focus on women journalists who blazed trails in our state, including some who attained national renown more than 100 years ago.
Nelson is joined in studio by two past presidents of the Woman's Press Club who have won multiple awards for their media work:
In addition to discussing the challenges that they have confronted (as a staff member at an Indy radio station in the 1960s, Julie says she was told she could not be a news reader because women did not have "credibility" delivering newscasts), Julie and Ann also will share insights about Hoosier women of earlier media eras.
They include Juliet V. Strauss (1863-1918) of Rockville in Parke County, who eventually became one of the country's best-read magazine writers. She wrote a monthly column called "The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman" for The Ladies Home Journal after beginning her career at The Rockville Tribune newspaper. Juliet Strauss, a founder of the Woman's Press Club, also fought to save Turkey Run from developers. That explains why women journalists across the state arranged for her statue to be placed there.
Julie, Ann and Nelson also discuss Kate Milner Rabb (1866-1937), a columnist for The Indianapolis Star who became a president of the Woman's Press Club, and Hortense Myers (1913-1987), a legendary political reporter for United Press International who was the first woman inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
Julie and Nelson are board members for the Hall of Fame, which inducted Rabb posthumously last year. They also share details about their late, cherished friend, Bettie Cadou, an Indianapolis-based writer known for breakthroughs in sports journalism who also was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.
In 1971 - six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 - Bettie Cadou shattered a barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials to Gasoline Alley, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas. (A few other women, including some journalists and sponsors, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits. In general, though, women had been barred from the pits and garage areas ever since the opening of the world-famous racetrack in 1909.) Bettie's entry followed a lawsuit against the Speedway filed by Mari McCloskey, a staff member of Women's World magazine,
Bettie Cadou, who died at age 66 in 2002, also covered the Indianapolis Colts during the 1980s as a stringer for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. She once told Nelson: "I'm probably the only grandmother covering an NFL team in the country."
Nelson and his guests also explore the challenges confronted by the first woman photographer to cover the state high school basketball tournament. Ruth Chinn, now 88, is a Muncie-based photojournalist who, as our guest Ann Allen puts it, "broke into sports reporting with a bang" in the mid-1940s. Lugging 55 pounds of camera equipment into Hinkle Fieldhouse (then Butler Fieldhouse), she covered the tournament during an era when fewer than 20 women in the country were staff photographers for daily newspapers.
Ann Allen, who has written an article about the Woman's Press Club of Indiana for an upcoming issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, notes: "Lest we forget, founding members had to overcome their editors' fears that they might become, horror of horrors, suffragettes. Many were called into their editors' offices to see just what they had in mind with this new club."
Some history facts:
Roadtrip: Mauxferry Road, Indiana's 'Mother Road'
We had a listener tell us that not enough attention has been paid to Indiana's "Mother Road," the Mauxferry Road, which originally ran from Mauckport on the Ohio River and ended in Indianapolis. The name Mauxferry Road has pretty much disappeared in most parts of the state; for example, in Bartholomew County the name of the road was changed to 500 West, but the name "Mauxferry" remains on the much of the road in Johnson County.
In 1824, the road was completed, and in the fall of that year, the state's treasury and other tools of government were moved from Corydon to the new capital of Indianapolis. Learn more when you tune in this Saturday.
In 1971, Indianapolis-based journalist Bettie Cadou made a breakthrough for women at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500, Bettie Cadou is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials at the Speedway, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas.
Although a few other women, including some journalists, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits, three things had been considered bad luck in the pits and garage areas since the Speedway opened in 1909. They were women, peanuts and a certain color.
In fact, when Janet Guthrie made international headlines in 1977 by becoming the first woman driver in the Indy 500, she deliberately showed up with a race car painted in this long-unseen color as a gesture of defiance against antiquated traditions.
Question: What was the color that was considered bad luck for so many decades in Gasoline Alley at the world-famous racetrack?
This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.
What do you do with vacant, historic movie theaters?
(Feb. 23, 2013) - On this Academy Awards gala weekend, Hoosier History Live! spotlights an aspect of our movie heritage. Specifically, we focus on the challenges that confront towns and neighborhoods with historic movie theaters that, while glorious in their heyday and built with marquees, balconies and platforms or pits for organs and pianos, have fallen on hard times.
That's particularly been the case for many vintage theaters built with only one screen, limiting their ability to compete with newer, multiscreen cinemas in shopping centers.
Among the historic theaters that have been in the news recently - and that we will explore during the show - is the once-lavish and beloved Rivoli Theatre on the near eastside of Indianapolis. Built in 1927 on East 10th Street, the Rivoli had a seating capacity of 1,500. Its sad post-heyday fate has included a long stint as an X-rated theater, then an even longer stretch of sitting vacant and deteriorating alarmingly.
Our in-studio guests include Mark Dollase of Indiana Landmarks, who in his off-duty life has been a key organizer of the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, a non-profit that now owns the theater. (The city of Indy recently announced that a $300,000 federal grant will be used to repair a portion of the Rivoli's roof, merely one of a long list of needs for the vacant theater.)
Mark and Nelson also are joined by Jeannie Regan-Dinius of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, who, with her husband, once owned the historic Huntington Theatre in Huntington. In her capacity as the DNR's director of special initiatives in historic preservation, Jeannie has been assisting a range of landmark theaters across the state, some with uncertain fates and others undergoing restoration.
The latter include the Tivoli Theatre in Spencer, which opened on New Year's Eve in 1928. Located on the town's courthouse square, the Tivoli drew crowds from surrounding communities and featured stage shows and concerts, as well as movies. A few years after a fire, the Tivoli closed in the 1990s and has been vacant.
Last summer, though, a restoration of the Tivoli began, thanks to funding from the Cook Group. Details of the Tivoli, past and present, are shared by a third guest on our show, Spencer resident Jason Kinney, a board member and the historian for Owen County Preservations Inc., which owns the Tivoli.
Jason, who also is the president of the Owen County Historical and Genealogical Society, has been researching and providing historical photos for the extensive restoration of the Tivoli's auditorium.
Nelson and his guests also explore the vintage Fowler Theatre, which has been restored in the Benton County town of Fowler, and a bygone movie palace, also called the Rivoli, that was torn down in Muncie.
In Bloomington, though, the Buskirk Chumley has been restored; during its Act One life, it was known as the Indiana Theatre for decades after it opened as a silent movie house in 1922.
Among the single-screen survivors and success stories are the Devon Theatre, an Art Deco-style theater in Attica that opened in 1932, and, perhaps one of the best-known, the historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin.
In Indianapolis, the Rivoli initially was owned by Universal Studios and cost $250,000 to build during the 1920s. Located in a sprawling building with four storefronts, the Rivioli featured a decorative lobby with terrazzo floors made of marble, balconies, an orchestra pit and state-of-the-art acoustics. During the late 1970s, the Rivoli became a venue for live music, then an adult movie theater.
Since its closing in 1992, the Rivoli's once-ornate interior has deteriorated to a state of "advanced decay," according to a recent Indianapolis Star article. In addition to the grant money for a new roof over the auditorium, Mark and others involved with the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts are seeking more than $3 million to renovate the landmark.
In Fowler, the town's historic movie theater also had deteriorated. When the community learned in 2001 that artifacts from the theater's interior - and even its marquee - might be sold separately, a nonprofit, the Prairie Preservation Guild, formed. The Fowler Theatre reopened, with an all-volunteer "army" that continues to undertake tasks ranging from ticket taking to running the projector and selling concessions.
An issue expected to confront many vintage, single-screen theaters concerns the upcoming distribution of first-run movies only in digital formats. Many lovers of historic theaters worry that owners in small towns won't be able to afford the steep costs of converting their projection areas to digital.
Roadtrip: 'America's Music' in Vincennes opens March 4
Chris Gahl of VisitIndy will suggest that we take the Roadtrip to Vincennes for the kickoff of "America's Music: A Film History of our Popular Music, from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway."
The opening film and discussion, presented by Tribeca Film Institute and Vincennes State Historic Sites, will take place Monday evening, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Shircliff Auditorium at Vincennes University Campus and is free.
On the following day, March 5, Greg Gilpin will perform in the Skelton Center on the university campus at 7 p.m. For more information about the entire series featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century American popular music, visit America's Music or Indiana State Historic Sites.
On the north side of Indy, the Vogue Theater opened in 1938 and was a popular neighborhood movie house for decades. Later, it became even better known with its recreation as a nightclub. The Vogue is now one of the most popular venues in the Indy metro area for dancing and contemporary music, with its movie-style marquee serving as a landmark on North College Avenue.
Farther south on College Avenue, a neighborhood movie house once was a popular destination near East 42nd Street. The movie theater opened in 1926 and was designed by the architectural firm that also created the Circle Theatre in downtown Indy. The movie house near College and 42nd closed during the 1970s. Unlike the Vogue and the Circle, it was demolished.
Question: Name the bygone movie theater that was a familiar site for decades at College and 42nd on the north side of Indy.
This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a gift certificate for The Sanctuary, the Art of Nancy Noel in Zionsville, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Wine heritage in Indiana
(Feb. 16, 2013) - When you put together a mix of wine, broadcasting and Indiana, doesn't one person's name pop to mind? Indy's own Jill Ditmire, a nationally known wine expert who also is a radio and TV veteran, joins Nelson to co-host this show about various aspects of our state's wine heritage.
Jill is the owner of Mass Ave Wine Shoppe in downtown Indy, a member of the American Wine Society and a popular speaker about food and wine. She also is a judge at international wine competitions. Nelson and Jill explore Indiana's wine heritage with two guests who are household names among Hoosier connoisseurs.
They are joined in studio by Richard Vine, a professor emeritus at Purdue University of enology (that's the study and making of wine) and the author of a new book, The Curious World of Wine: Facts, Legends and Lore About the Drink We Love So Much (Perigee Books).
Deeply knowledgeable about Indiana wineries, Richard is the namesake of the wine library at Purdue, the Richard P. Vine Enology Library, which includes his collection of hundreds of books about wine and wine-making. He has been knighted by three international wine brotherhoods and is the retired chairman of the Indy International Wine Competition.
Also joining us are Mark Easley, who with his wife Meredith owns Easley Winery in downtown Indianapolis. They are second-generation owners of the winery, 205 N. College Ave., which was founded by Mark's parents, Jack and Joan Easley.
(More than 40 years ago, Jack Easley, an attorney, was a key member of a group that formed to change Indiana's laws, which greatly restricted wine-making in the Hoosier state. The elder Easleys opened the winery in the 1970s in a former ice cream factory; they had their first "grape crush" in 1974.)
We're grateful to Mark because he joins our show by phone from a remote location in the Caribbean! That's even relevant to the topic because the Easleys apparently came up with the idea for a "reggae" wine when they visited an exotic locale near the site where he'll be calling in.
Some more fun facts:
Jill Ditmire's co-hosting gig with Nelson is something of a return to WICR-FM (88.7). Regular listeners will fondly remember Jill's sparkling segment - called "So Many Wines" - that was featured on Too Many Cooks!, the former "sister" show of Hoosier History Live!
"Learn more" websites:
Roadtrip: Toboggan at Pokagon State Park
Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks recently took the Roadtrip up to Pokagon in the far-northeast corner of Indiana, where she and her family survived a run on the famed refrigerated toboggan run.
Pokagon State Park is located near Angola, just off I-69, and, although its original name was Lake James State Park, in 1925 its name was changed to acknowledge the rich Native American heritage of the state and region.
Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two most notable leaders of the Potawatomi, who made their home in the area. Other winter activities at Pokagon include cross-country skiing, sledding and ice fishing.
In 2005, a famous Hoosier announced that he was teaming with a California winery to produce a line of wines. Apparently the famous Hoosier, a former star athlete, had been dabbling in growing grapes for several years. Even so, he was not usually associated with California. In addition to owning homes in Indiana, the famous Hoosier in recent years also has lived in Naples, Fla.
Question: Who is the famous Hoosier?
This week's prize is four tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a $25 gift certificate for merchandise at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Long-forgotten man who designed Indy
(Feb. 9, 2013) - Finally and at last, the surveyor who traveled to the Indiana wilderness and laid out the state's new capital is getting some respect.
A boutique hotel that just opened in downtown Indianapolis is named in honor of Alexander Ralston. So is a pub-restaurant that opened last year on Massachusetts Avenue, one of the dozens of streets designed by the planner who even had slipped into obscurity by the time he died in 1827.
Hoosier History Live! not only will explore the unheralded life of the surveyor (Ralston also helped design Washington D.C.) who had such an enormous impact on the Hoosier capital, we also will analyze issues that historians have debated for decades: The reasons Ralston gave various names to specific streets in the new city.
For this show about Ralston (1771-1827), Nelson is joined in studio by Ratio Architects founder Bill Browne, who has delved into the pioneer surveyor's street-naming process. Other guests are Indianapolis historian Sheryl Vanderstel and Joan Hostetler, co-owner of Heritage Photo & Research Services, both of whom have researched Ralston's colorful life.
A Scottish expatriate, Ralston was an assistant to French architect Pierre L'Enfant when he laid out the nation's capital. But Ralston came to the "west" - the Indiana frontier - at least partially because he was linked to controversial politico Aaron Burr. With surveyor Elias Pym Fordham, Ralston was hired to design the new state capital that was created in marsh and swampland during the 1820s.
For nearly 200 years, though, virtually nothing in Indianapolis was named in his honor, although some Hoosiers advocated naming I-465 for Ralston. (Do you remember when Indy native David Letterman led a mock crusade to have I-465 named after himself?)
Now, though, Alexander Ralston is becoming "a bit of a rock star," as Urban Times editor Bill Brooks put it in a recent column in the monthly newspaper that serves Indy's historic neighborhoods.
The Alexander, the boutique hotel (with extensive, urban artwork) that recently opened as part of the large CityWay development on the south end of downtown, is named in tribute to Indy's initial designer. The hotel's bar, Plat 99, takes its name from the site's location on Ralston’s grid.
And Ralston Draft House on Massachusetts Avenue also is named in honor of the long-unheralded city designer.
In addition to sharing his insights into Ralston's street-naming process on our show, our guest Bill Browne, who is board chairman of the Indiana State Museum, will share his conclusions in an upcoming article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society.
Our guest Sheryl Vanderstel researched and wrote the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994) entries for Ralston, who planned Indy's original Mile Square plat, as well as for surveyor Fordham.
Our guest Joan Hostetler, who specializes in local historic research and in preserving, digitizing and archiving historic photos, collaborated with Nelson and photographer Garry Chilluffo on the Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press, 2004) visual history book.
With her deep knowledge of Hoosier history, Joan has been a studio guest on our show several times, including a program in October 2011 during the controversy about whether to rename Georgia Street in downtown Indy. (Joan launched and led the Facebook crusade to retain the Georgia Street name.)
Not only did Ralston come up with the Georgia Street name, Ralston assigned state names to most of the thoroughfares in the city's original Mile Square, including Pennsylvania Street and Massachusetts Avenue. He made exceptions for Meridian Street, Market Street (which was designed with the idea of having a City Market on it) and Washington Street.
Like many residents of early Indy, Ralston never expected the city to grow beyond the Mile Square, which is bounded by North, South, East and West streets.
In his native Scotland, Ralston had been an engineer. After the Revolutionary War, he immigrated to the new United States and assisted L'Enfant with the city plan for Washington D.C. Ralston also was at least somewhat involved with Aaron Burr, the vice president who later was charged with (but subsequently acquitted of) treason.
In his new hometown of Indy, Ralston was influenced by the Washington D.C. design. He planned the central circle (what eventually became known as Monument Circle) in the center of the Mile Square grid, with four diagonal, radiating avenues, including Indiana Avenue and Virginia Avenue.
But the city's designer even was forgotten during his lifetime for reasons that Nelson will explore with his guests.
Like former world champion bicyclist Major Taylor, who was the focus of last week's show, Ralston was buried in an unmarked grave. More than 100 years later, he received a headstone on his burial site at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Even so, nothing in the Hoosier capital was named in his honor until the new hotel and the pub. Ralston Avenue on the northside of Indy was named in honor of Samuel Ralston, who was elected governor in 1913 and was not related to the city planner.
Roadtrip: Black History picks with Dona Stokes-Lucas
Guest Roadtripper Dona Stokes-Lucas will be calling in with a live report from the inaugural Sankofa Black Heritage Festival, which will be going on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Great Hall at the Indiana State Museum. Admission to the Great Hall is free (parking is $3 for the first three hours), and regular admission costs apply to the other exhibits at the museum, including the just-opened blockbuster Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family.Meet The Artist reception, where the African American History committee of the Indianapolis Public Library is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The reception is free and runs from 5:45 to 10 p.m., with free parking. You'll experience a showcase of visual artists, music and spoken word, along with a fashion show with commentary by Indianapolis designer Alpha Blackburn.
Like most of the other major streets designed by Alexander Ralston in the original Mile Square of Indianapolis, Capitol Avenue initially was named after a state. Many thoroughfares continue to have their original "state" name to this day: Illinois Street, Indiana Avenue, Pennsylvania Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Ohio Street are examples.
The current Indiana Statehouse - or Indiana State Capitol Building - was built for $2 million in the late 1880s on a street that still carried its original "state" name. But not too many years later, during the 1890s, the Indianapolis City Council voted to rename the street "Capitol Avenue," dropping the state name.
Question: What was the state that Capitol Avenue initially was named for?
This week's prize is a gift certificate of $70 to go toward tickets to a performance at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, as well as a $25 gift certificate for merchandise at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Major Taylor, world's greatest bicyclist of early 1900s
(Feb. 2, 2013) - Amid the international controversy swirling around Lance Armstrong, Hoosier History Live! explores the dramatic life of the Indianapolis native who was the world's top bicyclist during the 1890s and early 1900s - and whose amazing victories were accomplished without performance-enhancing drugs.
Even so, Major Taylor (real name: Marshall W. Taylor) coped with a mountain of challenges, including extensive racial prejudice in Indiana and elsewhere. Despite achieving wealth - and meeting the kings and queens of Europe - Major Taylor (1878-1932) died in poverty and was buried in a grave without a marker.
This show about one of the first African-Amerian athletes to become famous around the world kick-starts our salute to Black History Month.
Nelson is joined in studio by guests including Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum, which has an extensive collection of Major Taylor artifacts. They include lettters, rare photos, postcards and nine scrapbooks kept during his heyday by family members.
Kisha has been the local escort for Major Taylor's descendants, who live in Massachusetts but have visited sites in Indy connected with their legendary ancestor. Those sites include a historic marker erected on the Monon Trail near East 38th Street, the location of a bygone track where Taylor had been banned after setting a record.
Of course, the best-known Hoosier site named in honor of the former world champion is the Major Taylor Velodrome, a cycling track on Indy's westside. Built for $2.5 million, the velodrome opened in 1982 and helped accelerate belated recognition for Taylor, who died in obscurity in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital.
Our studio guests also include:
Coincidentally, Keith and his family live in a 100-year-old house in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood of Indy that sits on the site of the bygone Newby Oval, a spectacular track that was said to be matched only by Madison Square Garden in New York City for excellence as a bicycle racing venue. Major Taylor competed at the Newby Oval in 1898, 1899 and 1900.
Taylor was just 16 when he won his first significant race, in 1895, even though spectators yelled racial slurs as he pedaled the 75 miles from downtown Indy (the route took the cyclists northbound up Massachusetts Avenue) to the Grant County town of Matthews.
During that era, many bicycle tracks in Indiana were open to whites only. Even when Major Taylor was setting world records in other countries, he was not spared from prejudice. Gangs of white cyclists often worked together during races to box him in or force him to wreck. In many American cities on the racing circuit, he had to hunt to find places to eat and sleep.
In addition to exploring Major Taylor's dramatic life, Nelson and his guests also will delve into the Newby Oval and other Hoosier cycling venues and competitions during an era before the ascendancy of the car, when bicycle racing was a wildly popular sport.
The northeast turn of the Newby Oval is now the site of Keith's house. A year-round bicycle commuter, Keith works as a designer and draftsman in the parks and greenway department of BF&S, a civil engineering firm.
Major Taylor, whose father was a Civil War veteran, was born in rural Marion County. (According to foklore, his "Major" nickname derived from his habit, beginning at 13, of wearing a military cap and uniform while performing bicycle tricks on local sidewalks.)
He moved to Massachusetts in 1896, seeking greater opportunities with sponsors and on the bicycle race circuit. Taylor reaped national, then international, fame, competing everywhere from France to Australia and winning the world sprint championship in 1899.
Throughout his life, Taylor, known as the "Ebony Streak," refused to compete on Sundays because of his promise to his mother to "lead an upright Christian life."
Unfortunately, he confronted almost overwhelming problems, particularly once Americans rapidly lost interest in bicycle racing with the popularity of cars. A combination of factors, including bad financial investments and a divorce, left him destitute.
When he died in 1932, Major Taylor was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Chicago. (Years later, a bronze tablet was erected in a ceremony organzied by Frank Schwinn of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, who never forgot Taylor's heroics.)
Long before then, the Newby Oval had been torn down. Built on 15 acres near 30th Street and east of Central Avenue, the quarter-mile track had cutting-edge electrical lights and grandstand seats; it regularly drew crowds of nearly 20,000 bicycle racing fans.
But the track's developer, Arthur Newby, eventually joined partners who were car enthusiasts, including Carl Fisher and Jim Allison, to focus on the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Some recommended "learn more" websites:
Roadtrip: Love Your Heart/You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies
With Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy out on assignment, our guest Roadtripper will be statuesque Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society. On the heels of Valentine's Day and in celebration of American Heart Month, Amy will tell us about the "Love Your Heart" program on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis. Free admission will be offered to guests, and the day includes presentations and heart-healthy activities.
To learn more about early heart health in Indianapolis, guests will also be able to step back in time with You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies, Changing Minds to learn the story of Dr. Harvey Middleton, a black physician who was one of Indianapolis' early heart specialists.
"Love Your Heart" at IHS is a program of 2013 Indy Talks, which has the theme of Indy's Kids. IHS's daylong program will focus on heart and general health - especially for youths. Other participants will include the JCC with presentations about food choice, and energizing and educational activities will be offered by IUPUI's Schools of Physical Education and Tourism Management. Kroger also will be on hand to offer healthy food samples.
In the three "B" sports that captivated Americans from the 1890s through the 1920s - baseball, bicycle racing and boxing - Indianapolis was the hometown of two African-American superstars. Bicycling champion Major Taylor was the first to attain fame.
The other athlete was a baseball star - a slugger, pitcher and outfielder in the early era of the Negro Leagues who became known as "the black Babe Ruth."
Beginning in 1915, his rookie year with the Indianapolis ABCs team, he spent 33 seasons playing for or managing various Negro League teams. Several baseball analysts have called him one of the greatest players who ever lived, although his achievements are hard to pin down because early record-keeping in the Negro Leagues was sketchy.
After a stellar career as a player, the Indy native became the manager in the 1930s of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a team considered one of the greatest in Negro Leagues history. Later in life, the former player returned to his hometown to manage the Indianapolis Clowns.
Question: Who was the Indy native who became an early superstar of the Negro Leagues?
This week's prize is two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.
Pioneer music in early Indiana
(Jan. 26, 2013) - The jaw harp was popular. So were the fiddle and dulcimer. Community bands played flutes, whistles and drums.
There even were pianos before 1840 in Indiana, despite the significant challenges of transporting them to frontier communities via horse-drawn vehicles and river boats.
Musical instruments that weren't widely seen (or, in some cases, not present at all) in the Hoosier state of the 1820s, '30s and '40s: the guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, ukulele and accordion.
"Keep in mind that, during the pioneer era, Mozart had not been dead for as long as Buddy Holly has been gone today," says Erik Peterson, an Indianapolis-based musician and historian who has performed at Prairietown at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and at other history-focused sites.
Erik has been researching pre-1840 music of central Indiana for a postgraduate degree, thanks in part to a fellowship from the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Adept at various instruments, Erik often performs traditional Irish, American folk and Celtic music with various ensembles, including Hogeye Navvy, an Indy-based band known for sea chanteys.
To share insights about the music cherished by early Hoosier settlers - and to perform a few musical interludes to convey a flavor - Erik joins Nelson in studio for what is certain to be a lively, memorable show. Erik has been gaining insights by tracking down diaries, letters and journals of pioneer families.
"People in that era were incredibly musical," he says. "Music was a daily part of their lives, and it served as a way to build community among neighbors."
The jaw harp, a hand-held instrument about the size of a harmonica, was played frequently. Erik, who notes that the jaw harp primarily is relegated today to the soundtracks of cartoons, will play a rendition on the instrument during our show.
"The fiddle was the king of instruments here during the pioneer era," he says. "It's loud, and it's portable."
According to Erik, reliable accounts indicate the presence of a piano in Switzerland County in 1814, two years before Indiana even became a state. The extraordinary effort undertaken to transport pianos here decades before railroads underscores the importance of music in the lives of pioneers. Many towns in early Indiana, Erik notes, even had community bands.
Like later generations, early settlers differed along gender lines when playing musical instruments. But the gender preferences often were reversed from those that unfolded later, Erik says. Many men tended to play flutes and violins, while women played guitars and banjos once they finally made their way to Indiana, primarily after the Civil War.
Before that, advertisements for academies such as the Indianapolis Female Institute touted instruction in piano for young women.
In analyzing journals and letters of early settlers, Erik has combed through the extensive diaries of Calvin Fletcher, an attorney, banker and civic leader in Indianapolis. Fletcher (1798-1866) wrote about hearing an Irish bagpiper in the Hoosier capital early in the city's history. Fletcher moved to the newly developing city during the 1820s.
During our show, Erik will play a few verses of a song that would have been played frequently in early Indiana: Hail, Columbia!, the unofficial national anthem of the era. (The Star Spangled Banner was not adopted as the official national anthem until 1931, about 100 years after the era that will be the focus of our show. Since then, Hail, Columbia! primarily has been played to introduce the American vice president.)
In addition to researching Indiana pioneer music for a master's degree at IUPUI, Erik is serving as a historical music consultant for an upcoming "Guitars: Roundups to Rockers" exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum. He also has worked at the Children's Museum.
Erik also recommends the following "learn more" websites:
Roadtrip: Hiking and history in Delphi
With Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy really on the road this week, our Guest Roadtripper will be the glorious Glory-June Greiff, Indianapolis public historian. She has made the day trip more than once up to the old canal town of Delphi in Carroll County, which is about 15 miles northeast of Lafayette.
There's plenty of hiking and history at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, which is open year-round and includes an Interpretive Center, lots of trails for hiking and biking, and canal boat rides (in season, however!).
Don't miss the Latrrope and Ruffing Opera House and adjacent shops. Glory-June also has an eye for great small-town restaurants; she says Delphi has the Stonehouse Restaurant and Bakery, and for your dining pleasure either coming or going, there is Treece Restaurant in Rossville. If you go, tell them Hoosier History Live! sent you!
Harps of all kinds are built in a factory that has become a tourist attraction in a small Indiana town. Located in a former speakeasy, the factory building also includes a venue for concerts of harp music. The family-owned business makes instruments ranging from large symphonic harps to smaller harps, which they call "harpsicles," that are made in an array of colors. The former speakeasy-turned-harp factory is located on Main Street in its scenic hometown.
Question: Name the Indiana town.
L.S. Ayres & Company history
The holiday-season attractions: The lavish display windows and the Santaland Express children's train. The exterior landmark: The clock, which still perches in downtown Indy above the sidewalk at Meridian and Washington streets, once the site of the flagship L.S. Ayres & Company store.
Here's how a new, lavishly illustrated book sums up the impact of the legendary retailer on Hoosiers for more than 100 years: "Ayres was as much a part of Indianapolis as Monument Circle or the Indianapolis 500."
Ken Turchi, who has devoted years to researching and writing L.S. Ayres & Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America (Indiana Historical Society Press), joins Nelson in studio to explore all aspects of the company that grew to include Ayres department stores in suburban Indy neighborhoods such as the Glendale area, as well as in Fort Wayne, Muncie, Bloomington, Terre Haute and other Indiana cities. Ayres also opened chains of retailers such as Ayr-Way discount stores and Sycamore Shops, which catered to youthful preppies.
With origins dating to 1872, when founder Lyman S. Ayres Sr. acquired a controlling interest in a dry-goods store called the Trade Palace in Indy, L.S. Ayres & Company (this link includes Ayres Storybook and Magic Mirror videos) was overseen by three generations of family members.
As our guest Ken Turchi puts it, they "took the store from its early silk-and-calico days to a diversified company with interests in specialty stores and discount stores - before Target and Wal-Mart."
The Trade Palace had just 27 employees when Lyman S. Ayres Sr. acquired control. By 1922, more than 2,000 employees worked for his son, Frederic Ayres, in Indianapolis. According to Ken Turchi's book, both Lyman Sr. and Frederic were modest, work-focused men who shunned the limelight and treated their employees with a nurturing style.
Lyman Sr., who had been a retailer in Geneva, N.Y., before moving to Indy, died in 1896. At that point, the opening of a department store at the corner of Meridian and Washington. an intersection then known as the "crossroads of America," was a dream. (The initial Ayres store was located elsewhere on Washington Street.) Frederic oversaw building of the flagship store, which opened in 1905 amid great fanfare.
The store's commitment to women's fashion gave Ayres, as our guest Ken Turchi puts it, "the same cachet as its larger competitors in New York and Chicago."
Ken, a former board member of Indiana Landmarks, grew up in Crawfordsville, worked at an Ayres store while attending college and has spent most of his career in aspects of marketing and strategic planning. Today he lives in Indy and commutes to Bloomington, where he is the assistant dean at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. His home, built in 1954 in the northside Indy neighborhood of Arden, was featured on last June's Mid-Century Modern Home Tour. It is decorated with photos and memorabilia from Ayres and its major competitor, the locally owned William H. Block department-store chain.
He describes the flagship Ayres as "a traditional department store where you could spend the day browsing for everything from furniture to sheet music to sewing machines to typewriters."
In many ways, though, Ayres was more than just a store, Ken writes. "It was an experience."
During the 1980s, Ayres was acquired by May Company. A series of local blows followed, beginning with the closing of the Tea Room and the Top of the Stairs restaurants in the flagship Ayres store in the early 1990s. In 1991, the May Company announced that Ayres would not be part of the planned Circle Centre mall, which then was in a fragile state of development.
By the mid-2000s, the Ayres name had vanished from retailing after a local presence of more than 100 years. A portion of the sprawling, flagship Ayres building is now Carson Pirie Scott in Circle Centre, although the landmark clock continues to adorn the exterior. Part of Oceanaire restaurant is in the area where Ayres kept men's designer suits.
Some fun facts:
Roadtrip: Henry Louis Gates Jr. to speak in Kokomo Jan. 25
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take the Roadtrip to Kokomo to hear a presentation about genealogy titled "Finding your Roots." The speaker is the acclaimed Harvard professor, author and literary critic, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who also is host of the popular PBS television series Finding Your Roots.
This event commemorates the celebration of Ivy Tech Community College's 50th anniversary on March 15, 2013. Tickets for this event are available online at the Ivy Tech website.
While in Kokomo, you can also take the Wildcat Creek Walk of Excellence, which winds its way through several of Kokomo's city parks and historic areas. Auto buffs can also visit the Kokomo Automotive Museum, which houses more than 100 classic cars, including the first gasoline-powered car built in 1894 by Kokomo native Elwood Haynes.
Beginning in 1919, Fort Wayne residents patronized an upscale department store that became the equivalent of L.S. Ayres for shoppers in the state's second-largest city. Generations of Fort Wayne families enjoyed the store's holiday season windows and visited Santa Claus in the downtown retailer.
The store's Christmas mascot was a four-inch Wee Willie Wand doll, according to Ken Turchi's new book. In addition to the flagship store in downtown Fort Wayne, the retailer eventually opened a store in the city's Southtown Mall.
But Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres, a competitor, opened a large branch store in Glenbrook Shopping Center on the north side of Fort Wayne in 1966. About three years after that, Ayres went a step further and bought the Fort Wayne stores run by the beloved retailer.
Question: Name the department store that, for more than half a century before its purchase by Ayres, was cherished by generations of Fort Wayne shoppers.
A Hoosier amid the British royals
(Jan. 12, 2013) - How did a slice of Queen Elizabeth II's childhood birthday cake from the 1920s end up in the home of a Hoosier? How did he witness the post-wedding kiss on the balcony between Prince William and Duchess Kate?
And how has Andrew Lannerd, general manager of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, been able to mingle with the royals at Buckingham Palace garden parties, present the queen with bouquets of flowers, speak to her half a dozen times and see her on about 40 occasions?
Fresh from spending the holiday season in England - where he stays near Sandringham Estate, the country retreat where the royal family is in residence for Christmas - Andrew joins Nelson in studio to share insights, anecdotes and the links between this young, energetic Hoosier and the world-famous Brits.
An avid collector of all things royal, Andrew estimates he owns about 500 books about British monarchs, plus countless artifacts and curiosities such as the birthday cake, a marble bust from 1860 of Queen Victoria and a chair from Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1952.
A couple of years ago, Andrew even lived in London and did commentary on royal-themed tours.
He's been the general manager of the 150-voice Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since 2010. Andrew, a native of Anderson, Ind., also enjoyed a five-year stint as house manager for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
As a fund-raiser for the symphonic choir, he will lead a group of Hoosiers on a "Britten in Britain Tour" to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of English composer Benjamin Britten. The travelers from Indiana also will enjoy special visits to sites associated with the royals. (For more details about the tour, visit indychoir.org).
Even though well-known protocol is involved when interacting with the royals - "you never extend your hand to the queen," Andrew notes - he emphasizes the royals are far from stuffy.
"Queen Elizabeth has a great sense of humor," he says. "She has a wonderful way of putting people at ease."
He's fond of all of the royals, including Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, who has a reputation as cold.
"He's just no-nonsense," replies Andrew, who was seated near Prince Philip and his son, Prince Charles, during a historic service at Westminster Abbey in November 2011. The event, with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding, celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
"History came to life for me there," Andrew says.
The Hoosier's interest in British nobility was sparked by news coverage of the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. He began collecting memorabilia and traveling to England.
Some of his entrees to exclusive events have unfolded because he has established and nurtured contacts within the royal household and staff. Others have come because Andrew camped outdoors to get the perfect vantage point to observe proceedings such as the post-nuptials kiss between William and Kate.
During Queen Elizabeth's visit to the United States in 2009, Andrew arranged to present her a bouquet when she toured the historic settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. (Jamestown, the first English settlement in what became the United States, was celebrating its 400th anniversary.)
In addition to a slice of the Queen's cake from her second birthday in 1928 - as well as cake from the wedding of her daughter, Princess Anne, in 1972 - Andrew's vast collection of artifacts includes:
Andrew's first visit to England and interaction with nobility was in 2001.
"It was," he says, "magic."
Roadtrip: Jackie Robinson play premieres at IRT
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take the Roadtrip to the Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indy to check out a compelling new play about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player to play in the major leagues. Jackie and Me, written by Steven Dietz, is based on the popular young adult novel by Dan Gutman. In this theatrical presentation, a young boy's school report on Jackie Robinson finds him traveling back in time to meet one of the most influential baseball players in history. Now through Feb. 16.
Queen Elizabeth's second son, Prince Andrew (the Duke of York), came to Indiana in 2002. He visited the Hoosier state as part of the festivities leading up to a major sporting event. Prince Andrew, a former helicopter pilot, did not stay for the actual sports competition. But he visited businesses and helped build excitement for the upcoming sports event, which had many European competitors.
Question: What was the sports competition?
Hint: It's no longer held in Indiana.
This week's prize is a gift certificate to Mikado Japanese Restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.
By the way, you'll notice that our questions are getting a little more difficult. Why? Because the number of listeners and fans is steadily increasing (as well as the number of visits to our website), so there is a larger pool of listeners who are well-versed in Indiana history!
Sharing memories in captivating ways
(Jan. 5, 2013) - It's the dawn of a new year, and you have history - personal history - to share. But how do you package your memories and reflections in ways that will interest other people?
This is the show for you, whether your memories are about Labor Day on Lake Monroe, the Pan Am Games of 1987, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the crowd sensations inside Lucas Oil Stadium during the Super Bowl last February. Click for more!
Memories about several of these places, milestones and events have been posted on remember.com, a website founded by two native Hoosiers that's intended to be a "global memory bank" for people to share common experiences.
One of the co-founders of remember.com, Indianapolis entrepreneur Jason Becker, joins Nelson in studio to offer tips and advice about how to spark interest among other people (particularly total strangers) in verbal snapshots of your experiences.
Another expert in studio on the topic of sharing memories is Lyn Jones, an assistant professor of English at Ball State University who has taught a wide range of Hoosiers - from at-risk youth to war veterans, mothers of children with disabilities and senior citizens - how to write memoirs. Lyn helped launch the Memoir Project at the Writers' Center of Indiana.
A sampling of Lyn's tips: Talk to someone who can help you cue a memory. And hunt up photos, objects and mementos that will help you remember.
Jason, a 2004 economics graduate of DePauw University, advises: "Re-immerse yourself totally in the experience, in what it felt like - what you saw, heard, smelled and felt."
He shares some of the most compelling memories that have been posted on remember.com since its debut in 2010. If the collaborative memory website develops as planned, noted an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, it could become "the one-stop kind of site (for memories) that Wikipedia is for knowledge or Facebook is for friends."
Jason founded remember.com with DePauw classmate Brandon Sokol, who grew up in Anderson, Ind., and now lives in New York City. The two co-founders are assisted on remember.com by about half a dozen friends and colleagues.
For the Writers' Center, our guest Lyn has been the co-editor of two anthologies of memoirs. They are Flanner House Speaks: Sitting at the Feet of our Elders and I Remember: Creative Writing by Indianapolis Youth. She also is the author of two editions of Painless Reading Comprehension.
"Memoir is the best search mechanism we are given," she notes. "Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us."
Jason, who has "day jobs" with two Indy-area software companies, says he has been surprised to notice that collaborative memorials - memories about people who have died - have become among the most popular entries on remember.com.
Whether writing a memorial or another type of short memory, he offers this suggestion: "Don't try to mimic someone else's voice. Do it in a way that's authentic to you."
Roadtrip: Cross-country skiing and sledding in Indy
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take advantage of snow on the ground (though will it last?) to explore cross-country skiing and sledding opportunities in Indy. The Indy Parks website tells us that there is great skiing at Eagle Creek Park, Northwestway Park, Southeastway Park Trails, and of course on the Indy Park Greenways if conditions permit. Provide your own equipment.
And remember, if you'd like to leave the Circle City and escape for a couple of snuggly winter nights, you can get “two nights for the price of one” at many of the state park lodges around the state through Feb. 28.
Winter is the perfect time for quietrelaxation! And if you do like snow, you can always look at the e-newsletter for last February's "Snow history with weatherman Chris Wright" show from the Hoosier History Live! archives.
A memoir by an Indiana-born entertainer begins with this quote: "Please, can I go home?"
She made the request to return to the Hoosier state for her father's funeral on the eve of her big break. As an 18-year-old in the early 1950s, she had been cast in the leading role in a national touring company of a popular musical. The show was scheduled to open the next night, there was no understudy, and she had endured a complex relationship with her deceased father, an impoverished alcoholic.
Although the native Hoosier opens her memoir with the dilemma about her father's funeral - and despite other challenges that she recounts - she went on to achieve early success on Broadway, followed by a leading role in a TV series that has been seen in reruns almost continuously ever since its premiere more than 40 years ago.
Question: Name the entertainer from Indiana.
By the way, you'll notice that our questions are getting a little more difficult. Why? Because the number of listeners and fans is steadily increasing, and there's a larger pool of listeners out there who are well-versed in Indiana history. When we started the show five years ago, we had to make the questions a lot easier so we wouldn't eat up a lot of air time with wrong answers!
Lincoln's ally, our Civil War governor
(Dec. 29, 2012) - "If it was worth a bloody struggle to establish this nation, it is worth one to preserve it."
So declared (in a speech delivered a few months before the firing on Fort Sumter, S.C.) one of the nation's most ardent advocates of the Northern cause, an avid supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and the dominant figure in Indiana politics for much of the 1860s and '70s.
Gov. Oliver Perry Morton even was considered as a presidential nominee by the Republican Party (which he helped found in Indiana) more than a decade after Lincoln's assassination.
Amid the acclaim and awards being heaped on the current movie Lincoln, we explore the colorful life of the attorney from Centerville in Wayne County who rose in politics to become Indiana's governor from 1861 to 1867.
Our distinguished guest is an educator who also has been garnering awards - and who has purchased Oliver P. Morton's historic home, which had been greatly deteriorating.
Ron Morris, a Ball State University professor of social studies, is renowned for the ways he uses landmarks to spark interest in history among young people. In September, Indiana Landmarks named him a winner of the Sandi Servaas Memorial Award for his outstanding achievements in historic preservation.
Ron shares insights about the life of Oliver P. Morton, whose statue in front of the Indiana Statehouse is a familiar sight for thousands of Hoosiers every day. Thanks in many ways to Morton's dedication to the Northern cause, Indiana ranked second in the percentage of men of military age to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.
"To admirers, Oliver P. Morton was a strong, decisive and effective leader, most notably during the Civil War, and one of the state's greatest governors," according to Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006). "To detractors, he was a crafty opportunist who shifted positions according to the prevailing winds and a power-hungry schemer who used questionable tactics to assemble and perpetuate his political machine."
Morton's critics accused him of greatly exaggerating the presence in Indiana of Copperheads and other Southern-sympathizing groups late in the war so he could expand his powers and become, as some argued, a "virtual dictator."
His historic home in Centerville was purchased last July by Ron Morris, who plans to stabilize it from the elements, then restore it, room by room, to the period between 1848 and 1862. Ron lives nearby in another historic home built in 1830 on the Old National Road in Centerville. He is the author of Bringing History to Life: First Person Presentations in Elementary and Middle School Social Studies (Roman and Littlefield, 2009).
"You can step outside of a classroom in any community and give a class a 3D sense of place and the past," Ron told the Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks.
Morton (1823-1877) was the first Hoosier by birth to serve as the state's governor.
Known as the "soldier's friend," he worked tirelessly during the Civil War to make certain "our Indiana boys" were supplied with everything from uniforms and overcoats to weapons and medical supplies. He visited training camps and battlefields, establishing hospitals near the front lines to care for wounded soldiers who could not be transported back to Indiana for treatment.
Morton even traveled to Washington to personally request that Lincoln intervene and supply overcoats to shivering Indiana soldiers who were on Cheat Mountain in West Virginia as snow was falling.
Several years before the war, Morton had been an anti-slavery Democrat. Then he helped form the People's Party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in Indiana.
The pre-Civil War era in Indiana is familiar turf for our guest Ron Morris, who has produced video games about the Underground Railroad and Morgan's Raid, the swath of destruction waged by Confederate soldiers across southern Indiana.
After the war, Oliver Perry Morton suffered a stroke but was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was serving there in 1876 when, partially paralyzed from the stroke, he placed second on the initial balloting for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. The ultimate nominee was Rutherford B. Hayes from Ohio, who moved into the White House in 1877. Later that year, Morton died following another stroke; he is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.
Roadtrip: New interpretive panels along Indiana National Road
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests we forgo I-70 and take a slower Roadtrip along Indiana's historic Old National Road, also known as U.S. 40, where 15 new interpretive panels have been installed by the Indiana National Road Association (INRA).
The Old National Road in Indiana stretches east to west from Richmond to Terre Haute and was our nation's first federally funded interstate highway. In 1811 construction started in Cumberland, Md., and went westward toward Vandalia, Ill., and by 1834, Indiana's section of the road was completed.
Thousands of settlers used the road to move west, and by the 1850s, the traffic included families in covered wagons and stagecoaches, as well as farmers moving their livestock to market.
In 1994, the Indiana National Road Association (INRA) was created to assist in designating the National Road as a National Scenic Byway. More information is available from Joe Frost, the association's executive director, at (317) 822-7939 or email@example.com.
Oliver Perry Morton, Indiana's governor during the Civil War, studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for a few years as a young man. He left to study law.
Miami University in Ohio also was the alma mater of another famous Hoosier who, like Morton, had a connection to the Civil War.
Question: Who was this other famous Hoosier?
Lincoln's youth in Indiana and historic high school gyms: two classic shows
(Dec. 22, 2012) - The new movie Lincoln - currently playing in theaters and generating widespread critical praise - focuses on the final era of the life of "The Great Emancipator." So how about a refresher about the character-shaping and life-impacting events that happened during his youth in the new Hoosier state?
Abe Lincoln's years in Indiana - he moved here from Kentucky with his family at age 7 in 1816 (the same year we became a state) - are often overlooked.
Many people associate the Hoosier state with high school basketball. Is it any surprise, then, that creative reuses have been found for historic high school gyms in towns across the state?
Those two topics - Lincoln's youth in Indiana and Historic gyms across Indiana - are be the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you can enjoy two back-to-back shows from our archives.
Lincoln's youth in Indiana
For the first classic show (original air date: Feb. 7, 2009), Nelson is joined in studio by two young people and their well-known teacher, who immersed themselves in Lincoln and Indiana lore.
His guests are Andrea Neal, a history teacher at St. Richard's Episcopal School (and Nelson's former colleague at the Indianapolis Star, where she was editor of the editorial pages and continues to write a column), as well as two of her outstanding students. They are Courtney Burke and Caroline Tucker, who were eighth-graders at St. Richard's when the show was originally broadcast.
Because Abe Lincoln and his family didn't move to Illinois until he was 21 years old, all of his "wonder years" were spent as a Hoosier. Young Abe, who was tall and gangly as a 7-year-old, helped his father clear the unbroken forest in southern Indiana so they could build the family's cabin.
During our show, Andrea, Courtney and Caroline explain the dramatic changes in the Lincoln family - and in their Little Pigeon Forge settlement - that unfolded during the future president's boyhood.
They discuss his schooling, his tastes in reading (which became a lifelong passion during his Indiana years) and the influence of various adults during his youth. They included his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who is buried in Spencer County.
Nelson's guests also share insights about the Lincoln family's motivations for moving to Indiana - as well as explanations for why they eventually left to resettle in Illinois.
Historic gyms across Indiana
During the second classic show (original air date: Jan. 1, 2011), the focus is on the fates of former gyms, which often served as "town halls," pulling basketball-crazed communities together on Friday nights from the 1920s through the '50s.
One historic high school gym is owned now by the Miami Nation of Indians. At least two others are private homes. In another small Indiana town, a high school gym built in 1925 is a fire station.
To explore these and other former gyms, Nelson is joined in studio by Indianapolis Star sportswriter Kyle Neddenriep, the author of Historic Hoosier Gyms: Discovering Bygone Basketball Landmarks (The History Press), and by Chris May, executive director of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle.
Chris shares folklore about well-known current high school gyms across the state. Kyle's lavishly illustrated book spotlights 100 former gyms; he photographed these "gym gems" in their current uses, which include a church. (That's in tiny Honeywell in far-northeastern Indiana, where a hoop and basket hang over the pews of the Eden Worship Center.) A former gym in the southern Indiana town of Sidney now is a flea market.
In Peru, a former arena for Peru High School that was the home court of Kyle Macy, 1975's Mr. Indiana Basketball, has been owned for more than 20 years by the Miami Nation of Indians. They have used the gym in various ways, including as the setting for bingo night three times weekly.
In far-eastern Indiana, the Wayne County community of Greens Fork has turned its historic gym (built in 1925) into a fire station.
Tune in as we explore these and a hoops-high stack of other gyms, including the New Castle Fieldhouse, which opened in 1960. As many Hoosiers know, the Henry County landmark seats more than 9,320 spectators and is the world's largest high school gym.
Tipton County history and Obama ancestral home
(Dec. 15, 2012) - Take a turn in the spotlight, Tipton County. Not only is there a new visual history book about your history, but a documentary is also in the works about the farmhouse owned by ancestors of President Barack Obama that's located near the tiny town of Kempton.
Speaking of our commanders in chief: Did you know President Teddy Roosevelt gave a rousing speech to a crowd in Tipton in 1902? Not long afterward, the Rough Rider was hustled to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis for surgery on an injured leg.
That presidential trivia comes courtesy of Images of America: Tipton County (Arcadia Publishing), a visual history book by Tipton-based writer Janis Thornton, who joins Nelson in studio.
So does residential contractor and historic preservationist Shawn Clements, owner of Dunham House, the 19th-century farmhouse built by Obama's maternal ancestors. (Several generations of Dunhams owned the house, until 1969.)
Shawn joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live! show about the historic homestead in the spring of 2009, almost exactly a year after Obama (then just a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination) visited the spacious farmhouse accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, with about 100 journalists in tow.
Shawn returns as a guest to share updates because so much has unfolded since his initial appearance on our show, including the documentary under way titled A Single Root.
Janis covered the headline-making visit because she then was an editor at the Frankfort Times newspaper, although she grew up in Tipton. As a teenager, her first date was at a hometown landmark that has become a rare breed: An independent, locally owned cinema house (with a vintage marquee) called the Diana Theater.
Built by a Greek immigrant to Tipton in 1926, the Diana was devastated by a fire in the 1940s but was quickly rebuilt (with the added enticement of air conditioning) and continues to be run by a descendant of the original owner.
Also during the 1940s, the Tipton County town of Windfall was the setting for a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. Thanks to the help of the Tipton County Historical Society, Janis was able to obtain a rare photo taken inside the camp, which became a temporary home for hundreds of captured Germans and was one of several in Indiana administered by Camp Atterbury.
During our show, we also explore the significant impact of railroads on Tipton (in 1910, there was a tragic collision between a freight train and an interurban, resulting in half a dozen deaths) and the annual event for which the town probably is best known across the state. That's the Tipton County Pork Festival, which the community has hosted for more than 40 years.
The festival draws tens of thousands of visitors to the lawn of the Tipton County Courthouse and surrounding streets. In her book, Janis refers to the county's signature commodity as "a hot, juicy, barbecued pork chop."
Both Tipton County and the town that serves as its county seat are named after Gen. John Tipton, a military leader who battled Native Americans. Miami Indians in the Tipton County area were among the last Native American tribes to leave - or, in most cases, be forcibly removed from - Indiana.
In the 1840s, Barack Obama's maternal ancestors, the Dunhams, became the first white settlers of 120 acres they acquired from a government land grant. Some of their descendants - who included farmers, a physician, attorneys, teachers and even a Democratic state legislator - built the Dunham House and were buried nearby in a family cemetery.
Our guest Shawn Clements has moved some of their headstones, which were deteriorating, inside the house for display, with the permission of descendants of the initial settler, Jacob Dunham (1795-1865).
Some of his descendants eventually moved to Kansas, where Obama's late mother, Ann Dunham, grew up.
Shawn, who grew up in Lebanon and had been living in Noblesville, bought the Dunham House in 2005. As he explained on our show in 2009, Shawn was unaware of the farmhouse's link to Obama, who then was merely a rising political star unknown to much of the general public. Acting on a tip from an elderly Tipton County resident that Shawn explore the home's history, he established the multi-generational link to Obama.
The house has 12 rooms, a spacious porch and 5,000 square feet. When Barack and Michele Obama visited it in May 2008, they were accompanied by their daughters Mala and Sasha, as well as by Secret Service agents, a caravan of news media and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Photos of the visit are featured in the new book by Janis Thornton, who returned to live in her hometown of Tipton after spending 20 years in Los Angeles. Since then, she has worked as a writer, editor and communications director for St. Luke's Methodist Church in Indianapolis, the Frankfort Times and Purdue University.
According to her new book, railroads greatly stimulated Tipton's growth, beginning in the 1850s.
"So eager were farmers to get their grain to market by rail that they donated rights-of-way, despite some old pioneers who insisted nothing could ever replace a good team of horses," Janis writes.
She notes that north-south and east-west tracks eventually formed a junction in Tipton County; at the turn of the last century, passenger trains from each direction met at the junction three times daily.
In addition to the visits by Obama and Teddy Roosevelt, President Harry Truman made one of his whistle-stop speeches in Tipton in 1948. According to Janis' book, Truman's visit drew 9,000 people.
The Tipton County Pork Festival often has drawn even larger crowds. In 1991, for example, about 20,000 festival-goers jammed the courthouse square to enjoy musical entertainment and the assortment of pork products.
Two years after President Teddy Roosevelt's speech in Tipton in 1902, his vice presidential running mate was a Hoosier. The vice president from Indiana was a conservative selected in part to balance the Republican ticket because Roosevelt was regarded as a crusading progressive. The conservative Hoosier had been an extremely successful attorney for railroads. Then he served as a U.S. senator from Indiana.
Roosevelt and the Hoosier won a landslide election in 1904. However, the two men had a cool - and sometimes even antagonistic - relationship during Roosevelt's presidency.
Question: Name the Hoosier who served as vice president in the Teddy Roosevelt administration.
Roadtrip: Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we enjoy a Roadtrip to Jeffersonville to visit Schimpff's Confectionery, which is decked out for the holidays and has been operating as a candy store, soda fountain and lunch counter over 120 years.
Schimpff's is in Jeffersonville's historic, walkable downtown, with its many enticing shops, at 347 Spring St. You can watch candy being made at the candy museum next door. Stroll south down Spring Street and you come to the Ohio River and the Jeffersonville RiverStage with its magnificent view of the river and Louisville on the other side.
You'll also see the long-abandoned Big Four Railroad Bridge over the Ohio River being converted to a bicycle and pedestrian bridge connecting Jeffersonville and Louisville.
Other sites in the area include The Depot in Jeffersonville at 600 Quartermaster Station, an 1874 formerly segregated restroom that serves as headquarters for the Southern Indiana African American Heritage Trail. You can even have lunch at The Depot in its attractive small cafe. Also in the area is the Howard Steamboat Museum, and of course the splendid Falls of the Ohio State Park. This Roadtrip was recommended by Eric Grayson and Glory-June Greiff.
Colombian and Venezuelan immigration to Indiana
(Dec. 8, 2012) - Their percentage of the Indiana population is still relatively small, but immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela have grown explosively here - and across the country - during the last 20 years.
So Hoosier History Live! explores immigration from the two South American countries during the next show in our rotating series about the ethnic heritage of the Hoosier state, which has included looks at German, Irish, Scottish and Greek immigration here.
During our nearly five years on the air, we also have focused on the arrival of Italian stonecutters in Indiana, our Cuban and Brazilian heritages and even the growing Sikh community here. (Click on the link to see the Hoosier History Live! archived enewsletter for that particular ethnic heritage show.)
Our guests also include Fishers resident Bertha Torres, a native Colombian who is past president of the Friends of Colombia Society, and Danny Lopez, executive director of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Danny, who is of Cuban heritage, joined Nelson last May for our show about Cuban immigration to Indiana; because of his statewide position, he has informed perspectives about an array of Hispanic communities.
"In all, there are three times as many Colombians as Venezuelans in Indiana," Danny reports. He notes that Colombian immigrants are most heavily concentrated in Lake County and Marion County, whereas their Venezuelan counterparts have tended to settle in north-central Indiana and in Hamilton County.
Our guest Marco Dominguez immigrated from Venezuela to Indiana twice, beginning in the 1980s to study at Vincennes University, then at Butler University. He is former station manager for Univision in Indianapolis and is community sales director for the Finance Center Federal Credit Union. A pioneer in Hispanic media in Indiana, Marco was a producer for WTBU, Butler University's TV station, for eight years.
Our guest Bertha Torres met Manuel A. Torres, her husband of 53 years, when they were children in Bogota, Colombia's capital city. Because Manuel Torres had a long career in the U.S. Army, they lived everywhere from Germany to San Francisco (as well as in Indianapolis during the 1970s when he worked at Fort Benjamin Harrison) before they settled permanently in central Indiana in the early 1980s.
Bertha is retired after a varied career, including a long stint at P.R. Mallory and Co., the now-closed, Indy-based electrical components manufacturer where she oversaw the international/exports division. Bertha and her husband are the parents of three grown children.
According to information supplied by our guest Danny Lopez, much of the Venezuelan immigration has occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, almost 75 percent of Venezuelans living in Indiana came during that period, a trend that many analysts link to the ascendancy of Hugo Chavez, the controversial president of Venezuela.
Venezuelan immigration, in fact, is said to mirror (on a smaller scale) earlier waves of Cubans, with both groups having higher-than-average levels of education and financial resources.
Statistics supplied by Danny indicate about 3,890 people who describe themselves as Colombian live in Indiana. However, he notes wide discrepancies between estimates about immigrants from the Colombian and American governments.
The average Colombian in this country, according to Danny's information, is 34 years old; for the overall Latino population here, the average age is 27.
In addition to exploring immigration patterns, Nelson and his guests share insights about the culture, impact, contributions and challenges of Colombians and Venezuelans here. He also asks Bertha and Marco to share their personal stories about coming to the Hoosier state.
Some other insights:
During the early 1960s, children who were evacuated from Cuba because of the Fidel Castro regime were brought to more than two dozen American cities designated as havens. The cities included one in Indiana where Catholic parishes and social service organizations had stepped forward to assist Cuban families.
Because of the city's significant role during the Cuban evacuation of children - a project often referred to as "Operation Pedro Pan" - Cubans have had a more significant presence in the Hoosier city ever since.
Question: What is the Indiana city?
Hints: It is not South Bend, where Cubans also have been a significant presence for generations, generally attributed to Cuban students and alumni of the University of Notre Dame. The other Indiana city - which played a role with "Pedro Pan" children from Cuba - was mentioned on Hoosier History Live! by our guest Danny Lopez during a show last May about Cuban immigration.
This week's prize is two tickets to the 1836 Outdoor Adventure and Winter Fun Days at Conner Prarie, two tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and two tickets to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of Visit Indy.
Roadtrip: The Nutcracker around Indy
Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we enjoy Tchaikovsky's magical holiday music with a performance of The Nutcracker at the Tobias Theater at the Indianapolis Museum of Art the weekend of Dec. 14. The Indiana Ballet Conservatory will stage the classic Christmas ballet under the artistic direction of Alyona Yakovela-Randall.
The Indianapolis School of Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker will be the weekend of Dec. 21 at Indy's Scottish Rite Cathedral in a set that recreates Indy's Victorian-era mansion, the Morris-Butler House. Please take time this holiday season to enjoy our local performers and dance organizations!
Live from the Holiday Author Fair
History-making sheriff, immigrants to Indy, crusading politico and public gardens
(Dec. 1, 2012) - For the fifth year, Hoosier History Live! was broadcast from a remote (non-studio) location: the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, which bustled with captivating interviewees, as about 80 authors with Indiana connections gathered for the 10th Annual Holiday Author Fair. Nelson conducted round-robin chats with a range of fellow authors.
Here are highlights of our special program:
History-making sheriff. Seven years after the notorious lynching in 1930 of two African-Americans in Marion, Oatess Archey was born in the Grant County city. He grew up to become the first African-American to be elected sheriff in Indiana.
Mr. Archey, who also was the first black teacher at Marion High School, where he had been a state champion in high hurdles in 1955, joins Nelson for an interview.
So does John Beineke, the author of a biography of his former teacher titled Going Over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey (Indiana Historical Society Press). The book describes the hurdles that Mr. Archey encountered during a diverse career.
After teaching at Marion High School (where he initially had been rejected for the faculty and, despite being a college graduate, was hired instead as a janitor), Mr. Archey became the first black track coach and administrator at Ball State University. That was followed by a stint as an FBI agent and firearms instructor at the agency's headquarters in Washington D.C.
He returned to his hometown and was elected Grant County sheriff in 1998. Mr. Archey served two terms (the Ku Klux Klan denounced his initial election with a protest on the courthouse square), resulting in headlines that caught the attention of John Beineke, a Marion native who now is an administrator and professor at Arkansas State University.
The two share insights with Nelson about various historic events in Marion that are described in Going Over All the Hurdles, including the court-ordered desegregation in the 1950s of a swimming pool in the city's Matter Park. (As boys, Mr. Archey and his brother had to be taken to Anderson if they wanted to swim in a public pool.)
City of immigrants. Later during our show, Nelson is joined by Teresa Baer, the author of Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants (IHS Press), a booklet that explores the waves of ethnic immigration to the Hoosier capital. It begins with a look at Native Americans (Delaware Indians) during the pre-1800 wilderness era and explores immigrants from Britain, Ireland, Germany and southern and eastern Europe.
Derived from a suggestion by former Mexican consul to Indianapolis Sergio Aguilera, the booklet also explores African-Americans in early Indiana, the immigration of Asians such as Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese, and also Hispanics from Mexico and other Central and Latin American countries.
According to Teresa, the booklet is intended as a supplement for high school juniors at schools in central Indiana as they study ethnic immigration; it includes a timeline about the waves of arrivals of various groups.
Teresa makes the point that, almost from the very beginning, immigrants have been confronted by resentment and hostility from people who arrived earlier. Initial targets in the 1800s were Germans and poverty-stricken Irish Catholics who came to build canals and railroads.
"Ultimately, all of us came from somewhere else to be here," notes Teresa, who is managing editor of family history publications at the historical society.
The booklet, which was sponsored by the Efroymson Family Fund, includes vintage photos of a German immigration guide from the 1930s; Greek children during the same era in Indianapolis, and students at Hasten Hebrew Academy during a Passover seder in 1998.
According to Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants, Hispanics in Marion County increased from 33,000 in 2000 to 84,000 nine years later. The booklet is being sold to the general public as well as being used by students, with a free teachers guide available.
A "long shot" political career. Nelson also interviews Ray Boomhower, author of The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana (IHS Press). It's a biography of Jontz, a populist U.S. congressman and crusading environmentalist from Indiana who died of cancer in 2007 at age 55.
Ray looks at the "long-shot" political career of Jontz, a Democrat known for his frugal lifestyle and "shoe leather" campaigns who repeatedly won various races, beginning as a state legislator, in northern Indiana districts considered to be conservative and Republican.
In 1974, at age 22 while working as an unpaid caretaker for a local nature preserve, Jontz unseated a top Indiana lawmaker by merely two votes. ("One vote more than I needed to win!" Jontz remarked, according to Ray's biography.) After a defeat in his final political race, an effort to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in 1994, Jontz became an advocate for environmental groups.
As a young newspaper report in Rensselaer during the early 1980s, Ray covered one of Jontz's campaigns. Several years earlier, Jontz had been inspired to enter politics by a controversial dam project in Warren County that threatened the Fall Creek Gorge area.
Ray is the editor of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the colorful magazine published by the historical society. He has been a Hoosier History Live! guest several times, including shows about astronaut Gus Grissom and suffragette May Wright Sewall, who are subjects of some of his other biographies.
Gardening with Jo Ellen! Another favorite guest, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp of "Hoosier Gardener" renown, also joins us during this Holiday Author Fair show. That's because Jo Ellen, an Indianapolis-based director of the Garden Writers Association, is the author of The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens (Cool Springs Press), a state-by-state exploration of public gardens.
Nelson talks about Indiana's public gardens with Jo Ellen, a former Indianapolis Star colleague whose "Hoosier Gardener" column is a popular feature of the newspaper. She also has a regular stint as the "Hoosier Gardener" on WXIN-TV/Fox 59.
Her new book explores about 400 gardens in the United States and Canada and features maps as well as info about garden talks, walks and other events. Many of the gardens in the book are on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the gardens at Oldfields at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Garfield Park (the oldest city park in Indy) and New Harmony State Historic Park, where the gardens feature a well-known labyrinth.
Fun facts, courtesy of Jo Ellen:
Dan Wakefield on Kurt Vonnegut's letters
(Nov. 24, 2012) - Over a 60-year period beginning when he was freed as a POW in Germany during World War II, an internationally known novelist from Indiana wrote letters to family members, friends and even literary critics.
Now his longtime pal, another novelist from Indianapolis, has edited the letters, which range in tone from haunting, poignant and blistering to witty, warm and irreverent.
Dan wrote the introduction for the book, as well as decade-by-decade biographical summaries and (for many of the letters) explanatory notes. The book is being published this month, when Kurt Vonnegut would have celebrated his 90th birthday.
Descended from a German-American family that influenced business, cultural and civic life in Indianapolis (as well as the look of the city) starting in the 1850s, Kurt Vonnegut died in April 2007. That year, the Hoosier capital was in the midst of celebrating a "Year of Vonnegut" as a tribute to the literary lion who drew worldwide acclaim for Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), a novel based on his harrowing ordeal as a POW during the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. Vonnegut, who had been a leader of the POWs because of his ability to speak German, was ordered by guards to haul away corpses of children, women and the elderly.
"Reading these letters has allowed me to know my friend Kurt Vonnegut better and to appreciate him even more," Dan Wakefield writes in the introduction. "Nothing came easy for him."
Both Vonnegut and Wakefield attended Shortridge High School and were editors of its legendary newspaper, The Daily Echo. Because of their age difference (Vonnegut was a member of the class of 1940; Wakefield of the class of '50), the two did not meet until the early 1960s. Even so, Dan says that as a high school senior he heard about the impact his future friend was beginning to make as a writer.
Years later, Dan credited Vonnegut with a crucial role in making Going All the Way a bestseller by writing an influential review of the novel for Life magazine.
Letters about their mutual hometown are included in the new book. In one, Vonnegut expresses frustration about an infamous book signing for Slaughterhouse-Five at the bookstore in the flagship L.S. Ayres & Co. department store in downtown Indy.
"I sold 13 books in two hours, every one of them to a relative," Vonnegut wrote Wakefield in 1969. "Word of honor."
At that point, cities and colleges across the country were clamoring for a Vonnegut visit, with hundreds of eager book buyers standing in long lines. So the dismal turnout at Ayres (the building was designed by Vonnegut's grandfather, acclaimed architect Bernard Vonnegut; its landmark clock was designed later by Kurt Vonnegut Sr.) was particularly exasperating.
In 1997, Vonnegut wrote a blistering letter to the Junior League of Indianapolis (it also is included in Kurt Vonnegut Letters) over the organization's handling of the sale of a historic home designed by his grandfather.
But Kurt Vonnegut, who was based in New York City and elsewhere on the East Coast for much of his post-World War II life, also cherished many aspects of his hometown and came to feel a sense of pride in its rejuvenated downtown.
Dan Wakefield, who also lived in New York City for many years, as well as in Miami and Boston, resettled in Indianapolis nearly a year ago. Last January, he joined Nelson on Hoosier History Live! to share insights about landmarks from the 1950s (some bygone, some persevering) such as the Red Key Tavern, the Athenaeum and the Ron-D-Vu Drive-In that are mentioned in Going All the Way. A movie version of Going All the Way (1996) starring Ben Affleck was filmed in Indianapolis.
In September, Dan received the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Award for lifetime achievement. In addition to Going All the Way, his books include an acclaimed memoir, Returning: A Spiritual Journey (1988); Creating from the Spirit (1996) and Under the Apple Tree (1982).
For Kurt Vonnegut Letters, Dan combed through more than 1,000 letters written by the literary lion. To another famous novelist, Norman Mailer, Vonnegut once wrote: "I am cuter than you are."
Some of his letters from the late 1950s were written on stationary from a Saab dealership on Cape Cod. That’s because Vonnegut, while struggling to support his young family, briefly had the unlikely job of selling Saabs, the Swedish-made car.
As Dan notes in the introduction to Kurt Vonnegut Letters, "Nothing deterred him" as a writer - not even when a relative to whom he had dedicated The Sirens of Titan (1959) his second novel, told him he was unable to finish reading it. (Another relative, who ran a bookstore in Louisville, Ky., apparently refused to stock his novels because they disgusted her.)
After Vonnegut achieved fame, he occasionally fired off letters to school boards and communities that banned his books. They included a town in North Dakota that threw copies of Slaughterhouse-Five into a furnace.
Throughout it all, as Dan notes in Kurt Vonnegut Letters, he maintained and cherished lifelong friendships, including many dating from his Shortridge years.
When Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was a boy in the 1920s, he lived with his family in a three-story, Arts & Crafts-style home on the north side of Indy. Kurt and his two older siblings, Bernard and Alice, left their palm prints in cement outside the back door of the elegant house, which has leaded-glass windows and his parents' monogram on the front door.
With the onset of the Great Depression when Kurt Jr. was about eight years old, the Vonneguts were compelled to move to a far less impressive home nearby.
Later in life, the famous novelist occasionally referred to his initial boyhood home as "the house where nothing bad ever happened."
Question: What street was the initial Vonnegut house - which is still standing - located on?
This week's prize is four tickets to the Indiana Experience (which can also be used to attend next week's Holiday Author Fair) at the Indiana History Center, as well as a copy of both Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants by M. Teresa Baer and The People's Choice: Jim Jontz of Indiana by Ray E. Boomhower. Both of these authors will be at the Holiday Author Fair, and they also will be featured as guests on the Dec. 1 Hoosier History Live! show. These prizes are courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.
Roadtrip: World War II 'Band of Brothers' member appears in Greensburg
Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy tells us about an opportunity to meet and to listen to former Army Ranger Herb Sueth, 88, of Minneapolis, who was part of the famed 101st Airborne, also known as the "Band of Brothers," who parachuted into Normandy before D-Day during World War II.
A "Chautauqua Celebrating Courage and Tolerance" is open to the public and will be held Thursday, Nov. 29 at Greensburg High School Auditorium in Greensburg, Ind., from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $5.
According to Greensburg High School history teacher John Pratt, who has also been a guest on Hoosier History Live!, the discussion also will feature four Holocaust survivors who will be coming to Greensburg from all over the country. More information is available from John Pratt at (812) 663-7176, ext. 1222.
Enjoy 'encore' return of Covered bridges across Indiana
(Nov. 17, 2012) - Note: Because of WICR-FM's coverage of the University of Indianapolis football team, which has advanced to the NCAA Division II post-season for the first time, Hoosier History Live! will be pre-empted on the air Saturday. As a treat for our listeners, though, we are offering an encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives.
The show (original air date: Oct. 22, 2011) explores covered bridges across Indiana. More than 600 wooden, covered bridges were built in our state from 1820 to 1922.
Today, about 90 of these historic gems remain.
During this show, Nelson is joined by Margaret Smith of Indianapolis, past president of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society, and Larry Stout of Rush County, who helped spearhead the restoration of the historic Moscow Covered Bridge, which had been demolished by a tornado.
Some fun facts, courtesy of Margaret:
The heyday of covered-bridge construction was the 1880s; bridges were covered to protect their flooring and interior from the elements.
Parke County, which is known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World", has 31 covered bridges that remain.
In Rush County, a tornado that roared through in 2008 tossed the Moscow bridge (built in 1886) into the Flatrock River. Reconstructed using 30 percent of its original wood, the Moscow Covered Bridge reopened with a community celebration in September 2010.
Last year, Indiana Landmarks honored our guest Larry Stout, president of Rush County Heritage and a resident of the village of Gowdy, with the SerVaas Award for lifetime achievement. His preservation efforts extend far beyond covered bridges, but his county - as well as Parke and Putnam counties - is particularly known for them.
Why those counties? Although there were several builders of covered bridges across Indiana, the three generally considered to have been the most significant were two historic bridge builders based in Rockville in Parke County (the businesses of J.J. Daniels and Joseph A.. Britton), as well as the firm run by A.M. Kennedy (and later by his sons and grandsons) in Rushville.
Rush County has five covered bridges, all still in use. Some of the other covered bridges across the state no longer carry traffic. They have been bypassed by modern roads or preserved in parks.
"The bridges are located in many out-of-the-way places today, but they once were hubs of commerce," Margaret notes. "Many were railroad bridges. Often, they were the largest covered areas in a community."
That meant, she adds, that they frequently served as the setting for "political rallies, community gatherings and revival meetings – even weddings."
More fun facts, again courtesy of Margaret:
According to Margaret, the restoration of Potter's Ford is "one of the true success stories of covered-bridge preservation."
She says Potter's Ford, which originally opened in 1871, now even has a sprinkler system to prevent arson and a coating of special paint to resist graffiti. Arson and graffiti have plagued other covered bridges across the state.
Roadtrip: Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area
Glory-June Grieff and Eric Grayson report that the greatest spectacle in crane watching is going on right now at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area in northwest Indiana near the town of Rensselaer. There's a viewing platform at the edge of Goose Meadow in the wildlife area where on a good late afternoon you may see 15 to 20 thousand of these fascinating birds gabbling away and dancing as a part of their fall migration routine.
Glory also says, "Seeing them come in from all directions with their distinct bugling call is a sight - and sound - not to be forgotten."
Try to arrive at least a half-hour before sunset. This gathering takes place at sunrise as well, but then you'd miss the chance to eat at the Whistle Stop several miles south on US 421 (a little north of Monon), where the food is great and the experience heightened by no fewer than four electric trains running on overhead tracks. Allow time for the adjacent train museum, the Monon Connection.
Tell them you were sent by Hoosier History Live!
Enjoy 'encore' return of Tee Pee and other drive-ins
(Nov. 10, 2012) - Note: Because of WICR-FM's live coverage of University of Indianapolis football, Hoosier History Live! was pre-empted on the air for this date. As a treat for our listeners, though, we are offering an encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives.
The show (original air date: Nov. 27, 2011) explores the distinctive-looking Tee Pee Restaurant in Indianapolis, a favorite hang-out during the "cruising" craze of the 1950s, as well as other drive-ins, bygone and surviving. Nelson is joined in studio by two enthusiasts of the eateries. His guests are public historian and preservationist Glory-June Greiff and retired WRTV-Channel 6 cameraman Dick Baldwin, one of the Tee Pee's most loyal customers.
Actually, the Hoosier capital spawned two Tee Pees. The first, which opened in the 1930s and initially was called the Wigwam, enjoyed a high-visibility site next to the Indiana State Fairgrounds off busy Fall Creek Parkway. Years later, a second Tee Pee opened on the Southside.
Glory-June spearheaded a much-publicized (but, alas, unsuccessful) crusade to save the first Tee Pee from the wrecking ball in the 1980s. Its site is now overflow parking for the fairgrounds.
Although the Tee Pee was the favorite drive-in of Dick, our other guest, he also patronized the bygone Pole, a popular drive-in at Lafayette Road and West 16th Street in Indy.
During the show, Glory, who grew up in northern Indiana, dishes about Bonnie Doon Drive-Ins in South Bend and Mishawaka. Some Bonnie Doon locations continue to thrive today.
Nelson shares insights about the bygone Knobby's Restaurants in Indy, popular drive-ins patronized by his family during the 1960s and '70s.
According to The American Drive-In (Motorbooks International, 1994) by Michael Witzel, many of the beloved restaurants were once settings for "some of the most enjoyable diversions" for young people and families alike. They suffered an "astonishingly sudden fall from grace," Witzel writes, because of the booming popularity of fast-food chains, particularly when drive-through windows became common.
"Waiting for a carhop to serve a meal and remove the dishes became a luxury of another era," Witzel notes.
Even so, the Mug n Bun on the westside of Indy and The Suds Drive-In in Greenwood (which opened as the Dog n' Suds in 1957) are still going strong amid so many drive-in casualties. So is Don Hall's Hollywood Drive-In in Fort Wayne. Its promotions assure customers "the fabulous '50s will live on forever" there.
Not only do Nelson and his guests share insights about those eateries, they explore the bygone Ron-D-Vu near the Butler University campus, the North Pole at Illinois and 56th streets, and Al Green's Famous Food Drive-In on the eastside.
Although the Tee Pees were known as a hub for cruising and for fare such as Big Chief burgers, our guest Dick Baldwin, a member of Tech High School's class of '54, says many folks have forgotten that "wonderful" prawns and a special salad dressing also were served. During our show, Glory reveals which current restaurant in Indy continues to serve salads with the Tee Pee's special dressing.
She also reflects on her crusade to save the cherished Tee Pee, which was patronized for decades by high school and college students. She practically stood in front of bulldozers to try to stop the demolition of the northside landmark.
The southside Tee Pee, which was located on Madison Avenue, also has been torn down.
But we invite you to tune in to our "encore" show and savor, once again, the culture of cruising and the drive-ins that served as its epicenter.
Roadtrip: International Festival, and 'still-around' Indiana drive-ins
The International Festival, in its 36th year, will be at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Nov. 16-18. This year the festival will feature a traditional Punch and Judy show, a Celtic heritage night with the Indy Ceili Band and the Richens-Timm Irish Dancers, and the world-renowned Polish dance ensemble Polonia. You also can watch hundreds of immigrants become U.S. citizens at the Naturalization Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m.
Also, we thought we'd let you know about drive-ins around Indiana that are still in operation. Getting a mention on the show were Don Hall's Hollywood Drive-In in Fort Wayne, The Lemon Drop in Anderson, The Flagpole in Rochester, Bonnie Doon in Mishawaka, Edwards in Indianapolis at Raymond and Sherman, Mug n Bun in Speedway, and The Suds in Greenwood, complete with active Hot Rod Club.
Check before cruising to these venerable establishments to see if they are open in winter. If you stop in, tell them you learned about them on Hoosier History Live! Here is also a list of Indiana drive-ins still in operation from Dine.com.
An eclectic mix of 150 at soiree celebrate Hoosier History Live!
"I can't remember the last time I attended a party with such a terrifically eclectic group of people," said Billie Scott, longtime Indianapolis public relations exec.
About 150 people crowded into the historic Morris-Butler house on the evening of Feb. 16. The fourth-anniversary party for Hoosier History Live! was graciously hosted for the fourth year in a row by Indiana Landmarks.
"We've gotten so crowded, it looks like we'll have to move the party next year to the Cook Theater!" said Indiana Landmarks CEO Marsh Davis.
Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Hoosier Gardener, commented: "It was nice catching up at the party with Nelson Price, Molly Head, Richard Sullivan, Marsh Davis, Suzanne Stanis, Dick Cady, Eunice Trotter and many others at the 4th anniversary celebration of Hoosier History Live, a fab show on WICR-FM (88.7)."
Some of the party guests included:
The party was made possible not only by our friends at Indiana Landmarks, but also a host of other show supporters, including Pam Fraizer, Richard Sullivan, Bill Holmes, Garry Chilluffo, Michele Goodrich, Dana Waddell, Emily Kelso Barker and Jed Duvall. The birthday cake was personally provided by Maureen Dunlap, pastry chef at Divvy in Carmel. Shirley Judkins of "The Real Thing" provided piano accompaniment in the historic home's parlor.
The party invitation went out electronically to all of the subscribers to the Hoosier History Live! e-newsletter, so ... always be sure to check your inbox!
Street names in Indy + Trees, trees, trees
(Nov. 3, 2012 - encore presentation) - Ever wonder how streets throughout Indianapolis got their names? And why some have been changed over the years?
Prior to any streets, of course, there were towering trees on the site of the Hoosier capital, as well as across the state, most of which was a dense woodland forest. How has our tree canopy evolved, and what's the latest on an array of aspects about our towering friends?
These topics - Street names history in Indy and Trees, trees and trees - will be the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you will be able to enjoy two back-to-back shows from our archives.
Street names history in Indy
For the first classic show (original air date: Oct. 15, 2011), which focuses on the heritage of street names, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts. They are historian Joan Hostetler, who initiated the crusade last year to keep the 190-year-old name on Georgia Street in downtown Indy, and Steve Campbell, a former Indy deputy mayor who has been working on a book about street names.
Some were changed because of landmarks such as the Indiana Statehouse. Its construction resulted in Tennessee Street being renamed Capitol Avenue in the 1890s, according to Joan. She is co-owner of Heritage Photo & Research Services, which specializes in local history research and preserving, digitizing and archiving historic photographs.
According to Steve, the founder of Campbell Strategies, an Indy-based consulting firm, the street naming process in Indy can be divided into two categories: Names in the "old city" (pre-Unigov city limits), and then names in the suburban neighborhoods that were developed later.
During the show, Steve explains that Hague Road on the far-northeast side was named after a farmer who owned large tracts of land in the area.
According to Joan, some street names were changed because of anti-German sentiment after World War I. They include two streets on the west side: Bismarck Avenue, which became Pershing Avenue, and Belleview Place, which once was called Germania.
In the 1890s, an African-American city councilman pushed to change the name of Mississippi Street. It was renamed Senate Avenue in 1895.
Tune in to our "encore" show to hear more insights about the naming - and re-naming - process involving Indy streets.
Trees, trees and trees
For the second classic show (original air date: Oct. 29, 2011), which focuses on all things trees, Nelson will be joined in studio by David Forsell, president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. During the show, David identifies the tree in Indy that he considers "the most beautiful tree I've ever seen."
David and Nelson also share details about the city's oldest tree, a bur oak in Irvington that may be about 400 years old. David's organization, which is known as KIB and headquartered in a renovated warehouse in Fountain Square, has planted hundreds of trees in that neighborhood alone by partnering with various community groups. KIB has a goal of eventually planting 100,000 trees across Indy.
During the show, David shares details about how his volunteer-based organization decides where to plant trees - and which species to plant.
To top it off, David and Nelson share insights about Indiana's official state tree. It's the tulip tree, sometimes called the yellow poplar.
They also explore a tree native to Indiana that's praised for its fall coloration, the sugar maple. Its dense crowns are known for turning brilliant shades of orange and red.
Cafeterias across Indiana
(Oct. 27, 2012) - As we enter the season known at least in part for its focus on food, Hoosier History Live! chows down. Rather than feast on Halloween candy or Thanksgiving turkey, though, we dig in to our state's cafeteria culture.
Unaware that Indiana was famous for its cafeterias?
Well, think how many have flourished for generations of hungry Hoosiers. Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville has received national acclaim for its fresh-made rolls, fried chicken and old-fashioned pies. Indiana-based MCL Cafeterias is described in Tray Chic: Celebrating Indiana's Cafeteria Culture (Emmis Books, 2004) as "arguably the largest family-owned cafeteria chain in the nation." Poe's Cafeteria in Martinsville is cherished by devotees of its persimmon pudding, gooseberry pie and other scrumptious fare.
And Shapiro's Delicatessen has been a landmark in downtown Indy for more than 100 years, although fourth-generation owner Brian Shapiro has been quoted as saying he dislikes the term "cafeteria."
Even so, all of those beloved cafeterias (and a platter of others) are featured in Tray Chic, and its author is among Nelson's in-studio guests. He is Indianapolis-based writer Sam Stall, who also pens a question-and-answer column in Indianapolis Monthly magazine called "The Hoosierist". A native of Goshen, Sam is the author or co-author of about 20 books, many focusing on aspects of pop culture.
In addition to Sam, Nelson is joined on our exploration of cafeteria culture by a culinary queen who is well-known among Hoosier foodies. Daina Chamness of Greenwood has carved out a long career thanks to her work both in broadcasting and in the kitchen. Now known for her wine cake mixes, Daina formerly specialized in single-serving pies of all varieties.
Speaking of pies: As part of our cafeteria conversation, Nelson and his guests will discuss sugar cream pie, which was the focus of our show (with ever-delightful Daina as a guest) four years ago. At that point, legislators were debating whether to anoint sugar cream pie as Indiana's "official state pie". Not only did the lawmakers end up doing so by a vote of 99-to-1 (Nelson will share details), but sugar cream pie also is the official pie of the Indianapolis Colts.
Sugar cream pie is relevant to our topic because Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood and other cafeterias are among the few eateries that regularly serve it. (Sugar cream pie also was the focus of a "Hoosierist" column by Sam awhile back.) In Tray Chic, Sam describes the sprawling Jonathan Byrd's as the cafeteria version of an "epic, Cecil B. De Mille-style scale" production.
Noting that Hoosier cafeterias long have been hailed for their comfort food, Sam writ