Month: October 2015

Indianapolis Collected: The Worms crawl in…..

This week’s story has all the hallmarks of a classic horror tale.  A slaughterhouse. A butcher. An insane asylum. And Coffins with Worms. It all started last Monday, when I got a terse email alert from a stranger. “The killer is inside your house!!” it read. Well, not literally. The actual words were far more terrifying. “BACON CAUSES CANCER” While this scary pronouncement from the World Health Organization made the blood run cold through my bacon-clogged arteries, a century earlier such news could have brought on a heart attack for many Indianapolis residents. In 1914, the city’s pork packing...

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At Your Leisure: Relaxing at Fireside

Indianapolis is a ‘meat and potatoes’ type of town. That tends to happen when you’re located some 600 miles from the nearest coastline. That’s why it’s not too hard to see why many of the most popular restaurants tend to be purveyors of USDA Prime. Several more steakhouses are ready to come online soon, one may rightly be concerned that the city may succumb to meat-induced cardiac arrest. The steak market in Indy has had a number of favorites come and go over the years. One sentimental favorite had the chops to last half of a century on the near south side....

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HI Mailbag: Tee Pee Restaurants

Reader’s Question: When I was in grade school, my older sisters always raved about the Tee Pee.  By the time I was a teenager, though, it was gone.  Can you give me a little history of the establishment?  ~ Donna K.     HI’s Answer: You didn’t indicate the time frame in which you grew up, or the part of town in which you lived, so I don’t know which Tee Pee your sisters might have frequented.  I will therefore provide a little information on all of the Tee Pee Restaurants.  There were three Tee Pee Restaurant locations over its years of operation, which spanned...

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Keep Your Sauerkraut Away From My Bicycles

In 1896, readers of the Christmas Eve edition of Cycling Life, a trade magazine for America’s exploding bicycle industry, might have noticed this clever ad.  Probably drawn by an illustrator at an advertising house in Chicago, where the magazine was printed, the ad touted the ideal bike shop. A fictional building to the left conjures up the horrors of the crowded trade emporiums that Americans knew well in the 1890s.  Look at it.  There’s the “sour kraut” department, wedged in just underneath the bicycle department, which probably suffered from the drip-drip-drop of the mixed drink department up above, and maybe...

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At Your Leisure: Indy Ghost Stories

As we approach that spookiest of holidays, the subject of haunted places and ghost stories always come up. Whether you are a believer or skeptic, it’s always interesting to reflect on the history and reasoning of such tales. Often they are derived of extreme tragedy. Other times, the eerie appearance of an abandoned building brings about idle gossip. Indianapolis has its share of ghostly tales. Here are three legends that focus on the downtown area. The Indiana Theater has been serving the community since 1921. Tales of the supernatural, however, did not surface until a fateful day in 1991. After...

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Rufus Cantrell, Intruder in the Dust

In 1935, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges weighed in on what mathematicians later called chaos theory: the results of some phenomena are simply impossible to predict, control, or even explain.  Take the freak reasoning of Bartolomé de las Casas, the Dominican friar who helped stop the enslavement of Indians — only to suggest enslaving Africans instead.  As Borges put it: To this odd philanthropic twist, we owe endless things.  The blues of W.C. Handy. . . the mythological dimensions of Abraham Lincoln; the 500,000 dead of the American Civil War and the $3,300,000 spent in military pensions; the entrance...

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Indianapolis Collected: A Message from a Dead Friend

In May 1915, Argyra Friend was asleep in her apartment at 15th and Illinois when she had a conversation with her dead brother that was so vivid and real she questioned whether it was a dream. “The other night I had a dream about Edwin in which he appeared to me very well and happy,” she wrote her sister-in-law. “I said to him: ‘But Edwin, dear, I thought you were drowned when the Lusitania went down,’ to which he replied: ‘True enough, dear sister, I did drown, but I am not dead to those whom I love and know me....

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At Your Leisure: In Celebration of our Origins

Fall brings a plethora of internationally themed festivals in Indianapolis. Some of the more popular offerings include the French Market sponsored by St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church and Irish Fest in Military Park. Activities culminate in early November with the multi-national International Festival.  Although the lederhosen and dachshund racing may seem a bit patronizing, the annual German Fest gives us an opportunity to celebrate a culture that is a part of many Indy residents. Prior to the first World War, observers would be hard pressed to find a big difference between Indiana and the Rhineland. Everything from street signs...

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HI Mailbag: Old Settlers Reunion

Reader’s Question:  I saw a post on a Facebook group’s page about an Old Settlers Reunion.  Would you have any information on that event?  ~ Catharine T. HI’s Answer:   The Old Settlers Reunion was an annual gathering celebrated by Marion County residents for more than eight decades.  It became a well-established feature of the community’s social life during the period of its existence. By the 1860s, State of Indiana was approaching its half-century mark, and the City of Indianapolis was only a handful of years behind the state in reaching that milestone.  Some of the earliest settlers had already passed away, and the ones who...

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“Escaped Nuns are Myths”: The Roots of a Forgotten Riot

Did you ever hear about the riot sparked by horror tales, a Holiness preacher, and a renegade nun? On October 12, 1924, a man named Lindley wrote this postcard home to his aunt and uncle.  Lindley was headed to Cadle Tabernacle, Indy’s evangelical megachurch of the Jazz Age, to hear a talk by “a minister who was once a R. Catholic priest 25 yrs.  He can tell you things that would make your blood run cold.” The “ex-priest,” it turns out, was a Canadian named L.J. King.  Known to cops all over the U.S. as a “traveling peace-breaker” and...

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At Your Leisure: We’ve Got Next

Tonight the Indiana Fever will try to extend its quest for a second WNBA Championship. Although women’s team sports have struggled throughout history to gain traction, the winning ways and intense game day environment have helped the Fever gain a place in the heart of many an Indy sports fan. Women’s basketball has always thrived in the state at the amateur level. The first high school girl’s basketball team was established at Shortridge High School during the 1898-99 school year. Until the Great Depression, many high school girls’ teams shared billing with the boys in Indiana gyms on Friday and Saturday...

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When the Man Who Inspired Dracula Caused Blood to Boil in Gilded Age Indy

When the Irish author Bram Stoker penned his popular novel Dracula in the mid-1890s, he drew on many sources of inspiration — from Transylvanian folklore and the real-life figures of Vlad the Impaler and Countess Elizabeth Báthory to English Gothic novels and probably even Irish mythology about the sídhe (fairies), who, contrary to their Lucky Charms image in pop culture, had some unexpected vampiric traits. One man whom literary critics consider as a sort of “proto”-Dracula was Stoker’s own boss, the famous English actor Sir Henry Irving.  After writing a laudatory review of one of Irving’s Hamlet performances at...

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At Your Leisure: There Goes the Theater

The building once housing the Savoy Theater was still standing as of 2012. Have you ever driven down a street for the first time in years and realized something doesn’t quite look the same? A great shortcut for west siders trying to avoid rush hour traffic on the morning commute is bailing off the Interstate at Harding Street and cutting down Oliver Avenue. This street runs adjacent to the former General Motors stamping plant. The view is quite bleak. Many houses are abandoned and in a severe state of neglect. When you get to the 1200 block near Warren...

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