Monday, January 21, 2013

The Norris Family of Ritter and Graham Avenues

Clarence Norris of Clark County, Indiana pulled a few too many pranks upon his newly married friends as a young man. When he decided to marry Edith Hodson of Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1912, the couple eloped to avoid any payback.  They continued to live in southern Indiana and saw to the birth of their first child, Mary Alice in 1914. When the flu epidemic swept the world in 1918, Mrs. Norris, who suffered from a heart condition, nearly died.  She would eventually regain her strength although her heart problems continued to plague her for the remainder of her life.  The couple settled in Irvington in the 1920s and rented a double at 51 N. Ritter Avenue.  Mr. Norris sold life insurance throughout most of his adult life.  Another child, John Norris, arrived in 1920.

1920s image of Edith Norris with her two children, Mary Alice and John, in the rear of 51 North Ritter Avenue

51-53 North Ritter Avenue in January, 2013

Mary Alice Norris was a very serious student.  Each school day, she left her home at 51 North Ritter Avenue and caught the streetcar along East Washington Street.  She then took another streetcar to Shortridge High School.  A brilliant child, she graduated at the age of sixteen and at number one in her class in 1930.  She would later go on to university and to medical school.  She became an ophthalmologist, one of the few females in the state of Indiana to pursue such a career.  At the age of 36, she met a World War II veteran and widower, Joe Surratt.  He had two children from his previous marriage and the couple would have two children together.  Mr. Surratt, a West Point graduate, fought along side General Patton during the war.

Mary Alice Norris was Valedictorian of her Shortridge High School class in 1930.  She was only 16 years old.

Eventually, Clarence and Edith Norris saved up enough money to buy their first home in the early 1940s at 906 North Graham.  The historic photos are courtesy of Cate Surratt Delaney.  The contemporary photos, taken on January 20, 2013, show both homes on a bitterly cold day.

Clarence and Edith Norris in their later years.  This photo was likely taken in the early 1940s perhaps in the backyard of  906 North Graham Avenue.  

906 North Graham Avenue in January of 2013.  

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