Thursday, January 22, 2015

Emerson Heights Kindergarten 1943

The Kindergarten Movement, a German idea, had been embraced by millions of Americans by 1930 when the Emerson Heights Kindergarten first opened its doors to students at 4805 East Michigan Street. Many Hoosiers realized the value of educating children at an early age and began to send their kids to private schools to prepare them for the first grade. It appears that Helen Martin was the founder of this school and she located it in the southern section of the Emerson Heights neighborhood. Many younger families had moved into the modest bungalows and American Four Squares nearby so Mrs. Martin had a ready and willing market who had big dreams for their children. The school moved from the Michigan Street location to 1012-14 North Emerson Avenue in 1932 and remained there until 1946.

Susan Koepper Foster, who dwelled at 5263 East Tenth Street as a child, attended the kindergarten located in the commercial strip on the northwest corner of Emerson Avenue and East Tenth Street. Her teacher in 1943 was Mrs. Fields. We do not know much about Mrs. Fields yet, but she can be seen in the photo.  We also know the names of some of the children in the image. Mrs. Foster remembers that it was a lively and engaging school where she received an introduction to reading and math.  She also recalls that Mrs. Fields taught her how to skip. There was not much of a playground so the children mostly stayed inside, however, in 1943 they gathered outside for a photo at the rear of the building and along the alley that runs parallel to East Tenth Street. Sadly, this part of the structure was demolished in the summer of 2014 by a developer who did not have proper permits.  Most of the kids in this photo are now well into their retirement age and enjoying grandkids of their own!

All dressed up:  Here are the names of the kids we know at this point.  Front Row: The second girl from the left is Marsha Thomas.  The fourth girl from the left is Susan Koepper. Elaine Clayton is the second girl from the right. Middle Row:  Sandy Fotiades is the second girl from the left. Ronnie Meek is the seventh child from the left. John Kot is the third child from the right. Top Row: The boy with the head bandage is Howard Franke. Next to him is Mrs. Fields.  The boy to the right of her is Bob Hibner. Mike Corcoran is the third child from the right while Karen Group is the blond girl at the far right of the row.  The Emerson Heights Kindergarten was located at 1012-14 North Emerson Avenue.  
The historic image is courtesy of Susan Koepper Foster

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