Sunday, July 21, 2019

Irvington Brownie Troop Photo--c1942

When Ann Schmidt of 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive joined a local Brownie Troop in the early 1940s, she became part of a tradition that had been in the neighborhood for decades. Her particular group met at the Irvington Methodist Church. The girls gathered regularly and usually made some kind of craft. Ann Schmidt Brown still has a sunflower pin cushion she created as a Brownie over seventy years later.

In this photo, we have identified several of the girls, but not all. If you know of additional names for this photo, please contact me at williamfranklingulde@gmail.com. We are estimating the date to be 1942, but let us know if we are off on the date as well.

Front row:  (left to right) Marianne Baker, Dianne Hoffman; Second Row (left to right): Marilyn Moffett, ?. Ann Schmidt, Alice Aldrich, ?,?, Cassie Armstrong, Judy Wurster, ?, ?; Third Row (left top): ?, Janet Paxton, Lou Ann Bischof, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?; Top Row (left to right): Babs Fry, Dorothy Gerstner. Carol Kendrick,  Barb Swengel, Betty Cowell, ?, ? (photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


A special thank you to Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw who opened their scrapbooks and memories to me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Winter Scenes Along Pleasant Run Parkway


Winter in Irvington has always been a beautiful time to grab the camera and capture the newly-fallen snow. The Schmidts, who dwelled at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive, filled their scrapbooks to document these moments. Dr. Henry and Isabelle Early Schmidt moved into the house in the latter part of 1937 and immediately fell in love with the acreage on a winter's day. Their children, Ann, Maureen, Carl, Pat, and Jill had the perfect sledding hill as the property sat high above the Pleasant Run stream.  Fallen logs, gorgeous evergreens, and even their pretty bungalow all provided opportunities to capture the serene quiet around them.


The Schmidt home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive on a winter's day in 1938. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Time to sled! Dr. Henry Schmidt posed next to Beverly Spencer and Ann Schmidt on a winter's day in 1938.  The Schmidts resided at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


Beverly Spencer and Ann Schmidt enjoyed a winter day in 1938
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


Dr. Henry Schmidt posed with Maureen and Ann Schmidt on November 11, 1941. Behind the family, you can see their residence at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Some elm trees still existed on the lot during this era. Most elms across the United States were dying off in record numbers.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


The side porch at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in the winter of 1938.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


Beautiful newly-fallen snow on evergreen trees at the Schmidt home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive c1938.
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


Looking South: In this image, you can see the long driveway leading up to 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive c1944. In the distance, you can see Pleasant Run Parkway
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


A winter storm at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive c1950
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in 1979. It was now numbered as 5701 E. St. Clair Street
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


5701 E. St. Clair Street (formerly 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive) c1990
(Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)


I am indebted to Ann Schmidt Brown and her daughter, Doreen McGuire Crenshaw, for opening their scrapbooks and memories for this post.


Editor's Note: 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway is now numbered as 5701 E. St. Clair Street. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Perfect Place to Grow up

When Dr. Henry and Isabelle Early Schmidt purchased 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in 1937, they only had one child. Over the course of a decade they would add four more. Ann, Maureen, Carl, Pat, and Jill Schmidt had the perfect yard for a playground. In the winter, they could sled down the giant hill in their front yard. In the warmer seasons, they could explore the woods and nearby Pleasant Run. Family pets also had plenty of acreage in which to run. Photos taken in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s reveal some of the fun that children had while living on the property.

Ann Schmidt provided milk for Teddy on a warm summer day in 1939 at her home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Dress Up: Ann Schmidt had fun in her "new" adult clothes in July of 1940 at her home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Behind her, you can see the barberry bush that used to be on the property for decades. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

"General" Tobias T. Smith greeted Paul Schmidt and his daughter Barbara in 1937.  Paul was the brother of Henry Schmidt. Although General had plenty of acreage in which to roam, he preferred the entirety of the neighborhood frequently causing problems for the family who had to retrieve him.  (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Ann Schmidt remained a dog lover for her entire life. In this photo, snapped in 1947, she posed with Rags on the family property at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Rags loved to nip at people's feet. He was especially interested in their shoestrings. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Cute little Pat Schmidt posed in her bedroom in the attic at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in 1951. Ann Schmidt, her older sister, likely took this image. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Carl Schmidt went for a bike ride in 1950. In this photo, he posed along the Schmidt family driveway at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Behind him, you can see the doghouse. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)

Carl Schmidt posed for this photo along the sidewalk at the Schmidt family home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive c1951. Behind him, you can see a family car. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw)



Editor's Note: The address of 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive changed to 5701 E. St. Clair Street in the mid-1960s. 

I wish to thank Ann Schmidt Brown and her daughter Doreen McGuire Crenshaw for their kindness in allowing me to scan photos from their scrapbooks. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Schmidt Family Arrives in Irvington

Dr. Henry Schmidt and his wife Isabelle Early Schmidt purchased the beautiful bungalow at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in 1937. The pretty home situated on a bluff overlooking the boulevard and stream had been designed and built for the Jenney family in 1922. The Jacksons and Marions had also dwelled here before the successful 27-year-old optometrist and his wife moved onto the property. The Schmidts already had one daughter by 1937 named Ann and would have four more children: Maureen, Carl, Pat, and Jill. The children had the most amazing yard in which to play. A side porch offered stunning views all seasons. The Schmidt children grew up with dogs who also had the run of the acreage. Family photos from their early years in the house, reveal the lovely setting as well as the close friends and family who stopped by for a visit. The Schmidts remained in the house until the early 1990s.

Dr. Henry Schmidt sat on his front stoop in 1937 shortly after purchasing 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Nearby, General, whose real name was General Tobias T. Smith, relaxed on the front yard. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

Ann Schmidt, the oldest child of Henry and Isabelle Early Schmidt, posed in front of her home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in the summer of 1938. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 
In this sweet image, Ann Schmidt stopped to smell the lovely peonies most likely planted by Walter Jenney, in the spring of 1938. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

Dr. Henry Schmidt surveyed his new acreage at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive with Anita Platte and Isabelle Schmidt in 1937. Bob Platte (not pictured) likely took the photograph. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

Brothers: Dr. Henry Schmidt and his daughter Ann posed with Dr. Paul Schmidt (also an optometrist) and his daughter Barbara on the grounds of 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

From their side porch at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in 1937, the Schmidts could enjoy the seasons as their home sat perched upon a bluff over looking Pleasant Run Parkway and Creek. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

A long drive led to and from the Schmidt home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

A giant walnut tree near the garage of the Schmidt home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive existed in 1937. The family later had it removed. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

 Isabelle Schmidt stood in doorway of her home at 5702 East Pleasant Run Parkway in the spring of 1938. Nearby, Bob Platte, Ann Schmidt, and Henry Schmidt worked in the yard. The photo was likely taken by Anita Platte.  The Schmidts and the Plattes were very good friends. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 

Isabelle Schmidt posed with her daughter Ann along the brick path leading to their home at 5702 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive in the spring of 1938. (Photo courtesy of Ann Schmidt Brown and Doreen McGuire Crenshaw) 
I am indebted to Ann Schmidt Brown and her daughter Doreen McGuire Crenshaw who opened their scrapbooks and memories to me. 

Editor's Note: To learn more about the earlier eras of this house click on the Jenney Family link below. Today the house now has the address of 5701 East St. Clair Street. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Graduation Photo--1950

In the early spring of 1950, eighth graders gathered on the lawn of IPS #57 for their special graduation photo. Most of the kids later attended Thomas Carr Howe High School in the fall. While we do not know the name of every child in the photograph, we do have several of the names. Contact me at williamfranklingulde@gmail.com to add or correct any names. This photograph has been scanned thanks to Bill Sohn, a member of this class.

Graduation Photo, School #57: Front Row (left to right) James Riggs, Mark Mitzner, ?, Bill Sohn, Tom Litteral, ?, ?, Mike Stark, ?,?; Second Row: Joan Stumph, Donna Burris, Julia Wurster, ?,?,?,?, Earlene Terry, Virginia Garrison, ?, Nancy Pflueger, ?, ?; Third Room: Norma Soots, ?,?, Linda Huggins, John Stumph, ?, ? Dick Hildreth, ?,?,?, Margaret Moreland, Barbara Warrick, ? Patricia Lawhorn, Janet Newcomer; Fourth Row:  Pat Murphy, Jerry Coonse, ?, Cynthia Leslie, ?, Carolyn Barnett, Leonard ?, Judy Lawson, ?, Elizabeth Johnson, ? Jim Baker, Donna Funk

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Growing Up Along Downey Avenue

Anton and Ruth Fulton Sohn, who resided at 378 South Downey Avenue, had four children named  Annalouise, Anton Paul, William (Bill) Peter, and Robert Fulton Sohn. The family's modest bungalow became a gathering site for many of the neighboring children; however, the entire area served as their playground in the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s.

Kelly's Fish Pond c1940: Located behind 364 South Ritter Avenue, remnants of the fish pond still remain in 2019. Pictured in the photo (left to right): Bill Sohn, Joan Williams, Rita ?, Anton Sohn, Annalouise Sohn (photo courtesy of Bill Sohn)

Bill Sohn drove his first "car" in 1941 next to his home at 378 South Downey Avenue. He would later save up enough  money while working at the local Standard Grocery at the southwest corner of Washington and Audubon to buy his first real car while still in high school. Standing next to him donning a great hat is Anton Sohn.  (Photo courtesy Bill Sohn)

Children gathered in the back lot of 378 South Downey Avenue for this photo likely taken in 1939. Pictured (top row, left to right): Lyle Hanna, Dick Wickliff, unidentified adult, Ralph Williams, Leo Scheibelhut; (Front Fow, left to right): Joan Williams, Annalouise Sohn, Anton Sohn, Bill Sohn  (photo courtesy Bill Sohn)
Perfect for climbing, hanging down, or gymnastics, Anton and Ruth Fulton placed this playground piece into their backyard at 378 South Downey Avenue around 1940. If you look at the photo closely, you will see numerous kids on it! (photo courtesy of Bill Sohn)

As the children grew older, they were allowed to wander farther from their home. The Sohn brothers, Anton and Bill, loved to visit two nearby "woods." The first plot of nature was actually across the street from their home on the north west corner of Ritter and Downey Avenues. The forested lot belonged to the Stultz family at the time who lived next to the woods at 340 South Ritter Avenue. The second natural area stood east of Ritter Avenue, south of Burgess Avenue, and north of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Later this area would be developed into a small subdivision. The wooded plots served as the perfect place to explore nature. Both boys later joined the Boy Scouts.

Annalouise, Anton, and Bill Sohn posed for this photograph in 1941. Behind them, you can see the small woods that used to be across from their home at 378 South Downey Avenue. Next to the trees, you can see the side of the bungalow at 373 South Downey Avenue. 


Although forbidden, the grounds of the former Butler University also proved to be an enticing to visit. By the late 1930s, the campus had been abandoned and some of the empty structures proved to be perfect places to explore and have egg fights with other neighborhood boys. Dr. Anton Sohn described the abandoned college in his family memoir titled, The Straight and Narrow (1992):

     In the 40s the campus was in ruins: there were two buildings, twenty-five acres of hills and rouble, and a caved-in well. In one of the three story classroom buildings was a small apartment--the rest of the structure was in shambles--where a caretaker and his family lived. They shared the building with hundreds of pigeons. 

 The nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and many of the local businesses associated with that line also proved intriguing for the neighborhood kids. During World War II, the children would run to the tracks to wave to troops who were passing through Irvington on their way to or from the war. A nearby apple orchard along Burgess Avenue also provided some delicious and healthy snacks.

In 1950, Mr. Sohn allowed the construction of a new basketball court towards the rear of their lot. The entire endeavor seemed to be a community event as even a nearby neighbor, George Harris, who resided at 364 South Downey Avenue and worked for the telephone company, provided the goal post. The court became so popular among the neighboring boys that occasionally the Sohns had to wait in line to get court time. Later, Bill wired up a light so that they could also play at night. Both the concrete pad and the telephone post still remain in 2019.

The Sohn brothers along with their cousin William Fulton were very active with the local Boy Scouts. (photo and names courtesy of Anton Sohn) 

Anton and Bill Sohn had a few basketball courts on their property at 378 South Downey Avenue. The early courts were gravel and could be painful for those who took a fall. Later, the family built a proper court towards the rear of the property. (photo courtesy of Anton Sohn)

In 1950, the Sohns added a brand new concrete basketball court. Anton worked as an intern for  the Glenroy Construction Company while he was in high school so the company provided the labor and Ready Mix Concrete donated the concrete for the pad. Behind the court, you can see the rear of several homes in the 300 block of South Ritter Avenue.

Their neighbors, the Wickliffs, Kirkhoffs, the Harrises, and the Masters and others are all gone now, but their memories recently came back to life as Bill Sohn and I strolled along Downey Avenue on a beautiful June morning in 2019. We stood in front of the former Sohn home and Bill told me of the giant willow, walnut, oak, silver maple, and catalpa trees that used to be on the lot. A medical facility now stands across the street where the small grove of trees used to be. The alley next to their home is still gravel just as it was over seventy years ago. We chuckled as we spoke of one former neighbor who had no patience for children as she constantly shooed them away from her yard. On this morning, Downey Avenue was quiet with the only noticeable sounds coming from the cardinals and robins who, like us, were out enjoying the morning.

Bill Sohn plays with his pet bunny in the spring of 1941. Unfortunately, the rabbit bit Mr. Sohn and later became dinner for the family.  (photo courtesy of Bill Sohn) 


I am indebted to Bill and Anton Sohn, who opened both their photo collections and memories to me. 


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Sohn Family of Downey Avenue

In 1905, eighteen-year-old Anton P. Sohn (1887-1961) slipped out of New Albany, Indiana with a $5 gold piece secretly given to him by his mother. He headed north on the Monon Line for Indianapolis where he started a new life. His first jobs were in various butcher shops. He found lodging above the stores at the corner of Washington Street and Ritter Avenue.  With a talent for business, he soon opened his first grocery store at 1744 Brookside Avenue. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, the entrepreneur opened and sold additional grocery stores, purchased the Manhattan Movie Theater on West Washington Street, and bought a Jackson County farm. His life was about to change, however, when he met and eventually married Ruth Fulton.

Ruth Fulton (1903-1986) grew up in Hindsboro, Illinois. A talented student, young Ruth loved to write poetry. Her family, even to this day, treasure her poems and travel journals. Upon her graduation from high school in 1921, she moved to Indianapolis where her brother William, a dentist in Irvington, was living. Two sisters, Helen and Mabel, also resided in the Indianapolis area. Upon moving to the city, Ruth applied for nursing training at the Protestant Deaconess Hospital at the corner of Ohio Street and Senate Avenue. She was accepted and worked as a nurse for the next eleven years.

Anton Sohn and Ruth Fulton married on February 1, 1933, at Mr. Sohn's bungalow at 378 South Downey Avenue. Mr. Sohn was able to purchase the house at the height of the Great Depression because his grocery store at 1035 Fletcher Avenue managed to turn a profit during the hard times. He paid $4000 for the house in 1931. Built in 1915, the dwelling had previously belonged to the Olsen family. Mr. Sohn told his son Bill years later that many homes in Irvington, especially those along South Ritter Avenue, could be found at a cheap price during the Depression. Mr. Sohn, a financially prudent man, resisted the temptation to buy other nearby properties.

The modest one-and-a-half-story residence would serve as the Sohn family home for over fifty years. The couple raised four children in the bungalow. Dr. Anton Sohn, a son of Anton and Ruth Sohn, in his family memoir, Straight and Narrow (1992) noted that the house:

     ...was about1,200 square feet and consisted of six rooms, not including the bath, pantry, and porches. Oak hardwood floors were throughout the house and the walls were papered. When Bill (his brother) and I were older, part of the upstairs was finished with a bedroom and a full bathroom.

 Dr. Sohn noted that the house had a:

     coal chute under the kitchen window, but it was sealed when a gas furnace was installed after the War. Before then, Dad would let the coal fire burn out during the night. In the morning, we lit the oven and congregated in the kitchen until the furnace heated the house. 

The family planted a victory garden during World War II. Mrs. Sohn had a green thumb and planted a variety of flowers including many scented species, which filled the house with wonderful smells. The children played with the neighboring kids along Downey and Ritter Avenues.  The kids grew up hearing the sounds of trains along the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the noise associated with the busy Irvington Ice and Coal Company on South Ritter Avenue.

In part two, you will learn more about the children and what it was like growing up along Downey Avenue in the 1930s and 40s.

Ruth Fulton Sohn's Wedding Announcement in 1933 (Courtesy of Indianapolis Star)

Anton Sohn, who lived at 378 South Downey Avenue, posed Bill, Annalouise, and Anton Sohn in 1938. (Image courtesy of Bill Sohn)

Anton Sohn pulls his siblings, Bill and Annalouise, in the side yard at 378 South Downey Avenue c1938. The Sohns were the children of Anton and Ruth Fulton Sohn. Behind them, you can see their neighbor's home at 384 South Downey Avenue. The Wickliff family resided in that bungalow at the time the photo was taken. (Image courtesy of Bill Sohn)

378 South Downey Avenue on June 11, 2019
Sources:  Interview with Bill Sohn May 30, 2019; Anton P. Sohn, The Straight and Narrow, (Reno, Nevada, 1992).  E-mail correspondence with both Bill and Anton Sohn.