Indianapolis history is not just made up of buildings, historic homes, and age-old events. After all, it IS people who make history happen, so what better way to know Indianapolis history than to hear from life-long Indy residents? HI will be featuring some of Indianapolis’ oldest residents to unlock the personal memories and nearly forgotten stories of this great city.
Meet Marge Faulconer, born Marjorie Ann Arthur at Coleman Hospital in Indianapolis at the tail end of the Roaring Twenties.
Marge’s Indianapolis heritage stretches back into the late 1800s, as both her paternal and maternal families were Indy residents. Marge’s father, Robert J. Arthur, was born to Scottish immigrants in New York in 1901, who later ended up living at 1402 College Ave. in Indianapolis, where Robert’s father worked as a stone-cutter, but the original house is long-gone.
Robert’s maternal grandfather, Hieronymus Keller, was a glassblower in a front window at L.S. Ayres, in which people could watch him blow glass from outside. Robert grew up as a paperboy, delivering The Indianapolis Star in the morning and The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Times in the afternoon. He never finished school, but worked as a mail carrier for 37 years around 18th and Delaware St., making 2-3 deliveries a day.
Marge’s mother, Mary Jane, was born in Indy to William and Nanny Ward in 1899. William was a commercial realtor for Fletcher Bank, and family rumor holds him as one of Indy’s first to own a car – a 1919 Chandler Automobile. (Click here for more on Indy’s automotive roots!). Her mother, Nanny, was killed by a streetcar in downtown Indianapolis, an unfortunately frequent accident back in the day.
Marge lived her first 13 years happily at 5331 Broadway Ave. with her parents and older sister, Jane. Most nights included a game of Kick the Can in the alley with other neighborhood rascals, and they made sure to always hide from Sargent Magenheimer, a neighborhood policeman who’d often catch them skating in the street.
Marge attended School #84 and would trek home midday for a lunch of tomato soup or PB&J. A self-proclaimed book worm, Marge would read anything she could get her hands on, which kept her plenty busy after school. Since her family didn’t vacation often, their special family treats were riding the rides at old Riverside Park, an amusement park, or playing mini golf at Little America, which stood across the street from the current Glendale Shopping Center. Anyone else have special memories of these long-forgotten treasures?
“Another real treat, during the Second World War, was riding to Fort Harrison to watch the guards, but boy, you couldn’t get away with speeding there because of all those guards!” she said. “Afterwards, my family would go to Wheelers Restaurant for waffles.”
Marge attended Shortridge High School, taking the Shortridge Special, a street car that she remembers ran only once in the morning. After school, Marge’s favorite activities were taking dancing classes at Lips and the Riviera Club or hanging out around town with friends from Tabernacle Presbyterian Church.
Many a Saturday afternoon was spent at the Vogue or Uptown Movies, watching Western serials for a mere 20 cents. (If only the Vogue was still an old-timey movie theatre!) But, as she grew older, Marge had to be a responsible student and find a part-time job, which landed her at L.S. Ayres downtown, losing many of her Saturdays and evenings to a 75 cents/hour shift in second floor lingerie.
Post-high school, Marge followed most of her friends to what she labeled the “Shortridge Annex” – Butler University. And, like many college girls, Marge joined a sorority – Delta Gamma.
Marge holds other memories of old Indianapolis close to her heart. She remembers going to the Circle Theatre to see shows, then standing in the alley to get the autographs of celebrities – including Frank Sinatra’s! When Race Day came around, she and her friends would park in the Speedway infield and get a tan…more interested in bronzing and socializing than in watching the speeding cars. Sound familiar to anyone else?
But what Marge misses the most is the Tee Pee, a drive-in restaurant previously on the corner of 38th St. and Fall Creek Parkway. The Tee Pee, built in 1932, was a popular milkshake and burger joint for teenagers. Marge has many joyous memories of the Tee Pee, but chuckled at the memory of hiding from her then-boyfriend (and future husband), Tom.
“I once got mad at Tom when we were dating, so I went out with my friends to the Tee Pee,” she said. “But then I saw his car pull in, so I got under the table to hide, not knowing that he had called my mother to find out where I was!”
With the rise of fast food in the 1970s, drive-in restaurants suffered. The Tee Pee was torn down in 1988.
“It broke everyone’s heart when they tore it down, including mine,” she said.
Marge met her husband, Tom, while working a 4-girl office insurance agency at 129 E. Market St. Tom worked across the hall as a claim adjuster at Buckeye Union. She had nicknamed him “the fat boy across the hall,” but finally agreed to go out for coffee with him one afternoon, trying to hide her guilt for dating someone from a rival insurance company. Unbeknownst to Marge, Tom had to snag money from friends to take Marge on dates to the Athletic Club.
The two married in Indianapolis in 1951 at Sweeney Chapel (now Robertson Chapel) at their alma mater, Butler University, and soon moved into their first house at 4706 Hillside.
By that point, Tom started a career in law, and Marge became a stay-at-home mom for their 4 children. In 1959, Tom earned nationwide recognition as Judge of the Criminal Court during the Connie Nicholas trial, a 5-week long murder case in which Ms. Nicholas was found guilty for murdering her lover, Forrest Teel, a top executive at Eli Lilly & Co.
Tom was later appointed to the Appellate Court of Indiana in 1963 by the governor and served our city until the mid-80s.
Tom and Marge raised their kids on the far northside of Indy in a 50s-style ranch house, which Marge still lives in. The home originally sat amidst farm land, and she remembers a cattle stampede happening once in their backyard. Now, it hides in a subdivision beside strip malls and busy traffic. Today, Marge is involved in her church, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, and enjoys spending time with friends, both old and new. She still speaks with a first-grade friend, Jane Biller Steinhart, every morning.
Marge misses the smaller size of old Indianapolis, but wouldn’t ever want to move from her childhood hometown. She would love to see Indy implant a better bus system, because the traffic is just too much for her liking.