Sunday, May 8

A Hoosier’s Fond Memories

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I was born and raised in a small town in Indiana, a Hoosier through and through. My relatives were not from Indiana but found their way to Michigan City, to settle down and I am glad they did! It is a tiny but quaint little town to grow up in and even today it’s quite unique with a lot of character.
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The first thing I will never forget is my church, St. Paul Lutheran Church. at Franklin and 9th streets. It is a Gothic revival building, with a tall clock tower and corbelled brick detailing characteristic of brickwork done in Germany. The architect was John Renkawitz. Next door, at 818 Franklin, is the church rectory, built in 1882.
 
The inside always made me feel like I was in Heaven. The statues, the paintings on the walls and the stained glass windows made it one of the most picturesque churches I ever frequented. This church is a ‘point of interest’ in Michigan City to this day because it’s so special.
I spent a lot of time at this church. Besides regular Sunday services first I would go to Sunday School. A few Summers I spent in Bible School and later I had Catechism up to my first communion.
 
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Another memory of mine is the National Armory. To most people in my home town it’s another ‘historic point of interest’ but it’s much more to me. During the late 1950’s the city would use it for wrestling/boxing matches and my father head lined there on several occasions. I was very young then but I still remember how cool it was to see my dad fight at the Armory.
 

The Naval Armory is a white stucco, Art Deco building set off by glass block windows and three stylized front entries. It stands at the base of the drawbridge constructed in 1932 to mark the bicentennial of George Washington's birth date. The bridge railing is notable for its geometric Art Deco designs.
 
The drawbridge they talk about isn’t shown in the picture but I have fond memories of waiting for that bridge to go up and down when I was a kid. We loved it when we had to wait for the bridge! The draw bridge is there because the street is too low for some ships to go through, so when a tall ship passes through they have to raise the bridge. Not something you see much these days.
 
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For a city as small as ours we have a zoo in Washington Park down by the lakefront. what makes it different than other zoo’s is it was built during the Great Depression out of hard work and shear will. They did everything to complete it solely with donated materials and volunteer labor. Materials were scrounged, borrowed, and recycled wherever possible. There is even a story of the resourceful Zoo Board salvaging some structure steel from a nearby bridge and hiding it under manure piles so the City leaders wouldn't find it.
 
Indiana was one of the first states in the nation to get it’s WPA programs underway and our little zoo who could was the only zoo in Indiana completely designed and landscaped by the WPA and its predecessor agencies, FERA and CWA (Civil Works Administration). The Zoo and surrounding Washington Park has the most comprehensive and representative collection of WPA-designed and built leisure facilities for the public in Indiana. The WPA program became an important force within the Zoo and as long as the Zoo Board could find materials, the WPA continued to supply the labor.
 
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This gives our tiny zoo the beautiful, unusual winding landscape that it’s known for including the Observation Tower and the Castle In The Zoo which are also historic points of interest if you ever visit.
 
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The Washington Park Zoo was THE BEST and I went there all of the time. The last thing we would do before going home is climb the tower and see who could get there first. The winding paths and hidden pools with inlayed rocks in cement along the paths are so wonderful! You couldn’t get work like this done in these times. The Castle In The Zoo houses the zoo’s reptile collection and is a great example of the WPA’s work.
 
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Washington Park is a large amount of land right on Lake Michigan. In my days there was also an amusement park on the beach. Any child if they lived in Michigan City knew it was THE place to go for all kinds of fun! I can still hear the music of the Merry-Go-Round as I rode it around! The park closed down in the 196o’s but I can still see it in my mind as if it were yesterday.
 
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Then there’s the beach itself. Lake Michigan is a cold lake even in the Summer but the water is clear and there’s no sharks to worry about. It’s a good beach for swimming, sand castles, drift wood and climbing sand dunes to tumble back down them. I grew up on this beach and what fun I had!
 
We also are famous for our sand dunes and type of sand. Our sand is made up of little rocks and minerals like quartz ground down which makes it perfect for making fine china, glass and other products like them. In fact, we had a lot more sand dunes on our beach but they were used up making fine china. They had to put a stop to it because we were losing all of our dunes that we’re famous for. We call our sand ‘singing sand’ because when you scuff your feet in it, it makes a singing sound unlike any other sand.
 
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This is Mount Baldy the biggest sand dune we have on our beach. I have spent the night up there in a sleeping bag more than once and the stars were awesome! From the top you can see Chicago, Milwaukee and the whole world!
 
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This is our famous lighthouse and pier. We played here so much, even in the Winter. If it was wavy we would hang on to the metal loops (that are used to climb up on) and let the waves go over us. It was so much fun! We would walk out to the end and hang out. On good days we could see Chicago or Milwaukee. The sun sets were wonderful! The sun would set on the horizon and made for great enjoyment or picture taking!
 
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Here’s lightening striking out by the lighthouse and pier.
 
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Sunset with the lighthouse turned on.
Built in 1904, the lighthouse has become the most popular symbol of Michigan City, and is the only public operating lighthouse in Indiana. The elevated walkway, known as the "catwalk", was used by lighthouse keepers for 29 years to access the light tower. In 1933, this light on the east pier was electrified, and in 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard took over the service. The catwalk, no longer in use, was threatened with demolition. Local citizens rallied and succeeded in saving this landmark structure. The pier is a favorite spot for fishing and watching sunsets, and is frequently painted and photographed by local artists. It never looks the same twice.
 
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I have found memories of the lighthouse and pier. I spent so much time hanging out there. We did some dangerous things but we were young and didn’t know any better. I’m still here to tell my tales so I was careful enough. It was sure worth it!
 
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It kind of looks like a nuclear plant but that’s because it uses a cooling tower like they do. It’s actually a coal and natural gas fired power plant cooled by lake water located on the shore of Lake Michigan. It is run by Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO).
 
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When they were building this plant it was fun to walk around and see all the parts to make it laying around on the beach. Especially the cooling tower! The parts were so big and cool looking like in a Science Fiction Movie. Watching it go up was a part of history I’m glad I didn’t miss.
 

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Here’s how close we are to Chicago and just where Michigan City is. It takes about 45 minutes to drive there and we used to go there to see rock concerts all of the time. Also we have the South Shore electric trains that run from MC to Chicago and back. Me and my friends used to skip school and go to Chicago, then come back home when it was time to get home from school. It was great fun and the South Shore was a very fun way to travel!

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This is how the South Shore trains used to look when I rode them.
 
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Now they have been redone and they look like this. They are still electric trains and a very lovely ride to Chicago and back.
 
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This is an old picture of our Indiana State Penitentiary. My father actually wrestled some prisoners here when I was very young. I’ll never forget it, they let my mom, brother and I into the prison to watch the match. The prisoners were trusties which is why this was permitted but I still remember all of the guards and how strange it seemed. My father was very popular so he was a great hit and it was a time I’ll always remember.
 
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Our prison puts people to death with an electric chair. It was always a big deal when someone was electrocuted because the lights all over the city would dim when they did the deed. Us kids were always fascinated when this happened.
 
There was also a dead end railroad track behind the prison that brought all the supplies there. Not only did this make it easier for prisoners to sneak items into the prison this also became a popular way for prisoners to escape and escape they did!
 
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These are some of the men who escaped that they never got back during those years.
 
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This was the only mall we had in my home town. I worked at my very first job here at a Walgreens store when they still had restaurants and ice cream parlors. I was 15 (yes I lied about my age) and I worked as a waitress in the restaurant part of the store. God they had good food and even better ice cream!
 
Marquet Mall
 
During high school we hung out here like all kids do and my mom would take me every Sunday (when the mall was closed) to teach me how to drive in the huge parking lot. It was an excellent way to teach someone to drive and my mother was smart to think of it. I thank her for it to this day!
 
Carlsons Drivein
 
This is Carlson’s Drive In. We had an A & W Root Beer Drive In I loved but when you live in a state where it snows every Winter drive ins aren’t easy to run year round. It was close to the beach and my family would go there and eat, then go to the beach. I still miss their hot dogs with relish!
 
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So Carlson’s is the only drive in we have left and I still miss the food there! My favorite was the deep fried mushrooms. The waiters brought your food to your car on skates like the ‘old days’ and they still do today.
 
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This is the cemetery I thought I’d be buried in when I passed away. I have a brother (John) who died 3 days after birth who is buried here besides my father and many other relatives. Greenwood Cemetery has my father’s side of the family resting here. The rest are mostly in Wisconsin.
 
My friends and I used to play in this cemetery like it was a park. I loved to look at all of the grave stones and at night we would dare each other to walk through a part of the cemetery alone. Whoever could do it won. It was really scary at night!!
I’s one of two large cemeteries in my town but it’s my favorite cemetery because it’s the oldest and most interesting. I wish I had a better image to show you just how beautiful Greenwood Cemetery is but this will have to do.
 
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So this is a Hoosiers fond memories of my home town and the extreme experiences I had growing up there. Because my father was a wrestler and such I had a little different life than the average person growing up in Michigan City. I’m so glad I grew up there; it was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything! Growing up with snow was so much fun and I’m glad I did! I’m thankful I don’t have to put up with that kind of weather anymore though being disabled and all.
 
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I hope you like my Photoshop treatment of the lighthouse, pier and beach. I’m having great fun learning how to use Photoshop and other similar programs on and off of my phone. I’m still learning but I’m very pleased with the results already and the learning experience I’m having as I make these creative images is so much fun for me!
Now, for more of my favorite memories from Michigan City:
 

    • Eating fresh water perch at M and M’s Restaurant, filled with friends and neighbors whom I know. Good fresh water perch is hard to get, you can only get it from Lake Michigan and it is THE BEST!

    • My Uncle Joe as Santa in Santa's house on the corner of 7th and Franklin. I always wondered how Santa knew what I wanted! (Before the mall was opened Santa’s house was outside.)

    • Being able to drive all the way down Franklin Street to Washington Park (the lake) before they redid downtown.

    • The view from Mount Baldy and sleeping up there in our sleeping bags.

    • Franklin Street filled with honking cars after the 1966 state championship. I was young but my best friend’s older sister has a convertible and she let us ride in the back as we rode around celebrating. It was the only time we won also.

    • Watching the men make railroad cars at Pullman. My first husband worked at the steel plant repairing these cars.

    • Watching my father wrestle at Ames Field, the Armory and also at the State Fair.

    • Doing Winter sports. ice skating, sledding, making ice forts, snow ball fights and all that fun stuff!

    • Sitting at the fountain in Scholl's Dairy waiting for a cherry coke.

    • Summer concerts at the old band shell, and then the new one when it was re-done.

    • Haunted houses in the country and Beverly Shores. I even saw my father in his house after he was dead. There is defiantly psychic happenings in Michigan City!

    • Horseback riding in Beverly Shores. The stable knew me so well I could go and get a horse, ride it, groom it and put it away. I felt like I had my own horse!

    • Waiting in the cold at the first McDonald's. There was no place to eat indoors, no drive through, you walked up to a window to order your food. Once it was done you took your food and ate it somewhere else or in your car.

    • The old South Shore station with skeeball.

    • The B&K root beer stand by the bridge (near the National Armory) that I spoke of earlier.

    • The smell from the Smith Brothers cough drop factory. It smelled good and my mom and aunt both worked there. I got all the ‘free cough drops’ I ever wanted! I miss those cough drops!

    • The balcony in the Tivoli Theater where I saw the first Beatle movie in black and white.

    • The 212 outdoor theater. It was our only one and it is missed.

    • Sunrises, storms. foggy nights and sunsets on Lake Michigan especially by the light house.

    • Bumper cars in Washington Park I really loved them!

    • Monkey Island at the Washington Park Zoo.

    • Climbing to the top of the observation tower first.

    • Riding to Chicago in the old South Shore cars and getting back before school was over. A blast from the past!

    • Franklin Street decorations at Christmas.

    • Dances at the old YMCA. I was high school age and we were also having school dances so it was double fun! I also took lots of classes at the old YMCA and enjoyed it tremendously.

    • Starting school after Labor Day.

    • Walking to school every day in the rain and snow except for 2 years when I got bused to another junior high school.

    • Stopping to buy candy every day while walking to school because candy was a penny each and you felt rich with 5 cents and a quarter made you feel like a millionaire!

    • We never had to lock our doors and we knew our neighbors. Our neighbors watched our property and we watched over theirs.
I have so many more memories but that’s only because I have a lot of years to remember! Tee hee! My birthday’s coming up (not a hint, really,) and this is one reason why I felt like doing this blog. I’m processing a lot of memories right now and there’s some really horrible times but the good times just shine on through. In the end they’re all I seem to remember and sometimes I feel blessed that I’m like that.
 
Oh I know it’s not easy I’ve had my bouts with depression and bad times. They do go hand in hand, when things get hard life gets hard. Still, I’m getting pretty old now, and I have a treasure trove of memories in me that no one else has. I am a living part of history. After all, I’m an individual, a Hoosier and I smiled the whole time I did this blog. I’m still smiling……PhotobucketBecause I don’t have a lot of time I also want to tell my mother Barbara, Happy Mother’s Day! I love you and if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have these wonderful memories! Please email me I miss you badly! I hope your day was good. I suppose you went out for fried shrimp? Ha ha! Luv, Bekkie
 
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PhotobucketKeep On Bloggin’!
Yep I’m still smiling!

5 comments:

  1. Bekki this is a very interesting blog you did!... I enjoyed reading about all the buildings & where you hung out. That is awesome your dad being a wrestler.. Sounds like you had a very good life growing up.. That is sad that you have to ask your mom to email you....I hope she will. I hope you had a good mothers day dear.. love you... hugs

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  2. Hey Bekkie, you should give your Mom a phone call.

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  3. I loved this blog Bekkie, I feel as if I know you a weee bit better now...
    Have a lovely week

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  4. I'm so happy you feel that way LJ! When I wrote this blog I wanted to let my online friends know me better. Glad you liked it! I sure hope you had a good Mother's Day and a great week! ♥

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  5. Brilliant, just brilliant. Thank you for the mini vacation, without the price of high airline tickets or having to leave the comfort of my own chair. I truly enjoyed my trip.
    Memories are a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. Hold on to them tight because they are indeed precious.

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I hope you like the geekiness and topics that I write about in Wonderland. This is an older blog so I don't write very often anymore, however, the posts from the past are still enjoyable and I wrote on a plethora of subjects so give my Wonderland a try you may like it. Big hug!

BTW I have Comment Moderation turned on for the rude ones who have to leave fake comments with poorly hidden links in them. You ruin it for everyone but you already know that.