Saturday, October 3, 2015

Growing Up Along Audubon Road

Nancy Ostrander and Eva Ruth Ham grew up as sisters at 323 North Audubon Road. They were, however, not actually sisters.  Eva Ruth's mother died in Cuba in 1926. Her father, Thaddeus Cooper Ham, could not cope with an infant so he sent the young girl and her Cuban nanny, Esperanza Rodriguez, to live with his widowed sister in Irvington in 1927. Guinevere Ostrander raised Eva Ruth and her biological daughter, Nancy, in the beautiful home along Audubon. The girls attended School #57 and later Howe High School.  During the Great Depression, Nancy and Eva played at the homes of several neighbors although sadly they noticed that some of their friends had to move away because their parents could not pay the mortgage. The girls were particularly close to the Lavelle sisters who dwelled in a beautiful Prairie-styled home at 5720 Lowell Avenue. Other childhood playmates included the Hughes and Schultz kids. Both Nancy and Eva Ruth grew up to become successful women.  Eva Ruth matriculated to Indiana University while Nancy graduated from Butler University. Both girls moved away from Irvington although their mother and nanny remained in their childhood home.  Eva Ruth married and started a family.  Nancy lived all over the world as she worked for the U.S. Department of State.  In 1978, she was appointed by President Carter to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Surinam.

Peg Cannon, a cousin, posed with Nancy Ostrander and Eva Ruth Ham, in front of 323 North Audubon Road c1930

Nancy Ostrander in the side yard at 323 North Audubon Road c1931: If you look closely, you can see the rear of 319 Lesley Avenue.  

Nancy Ostrander at 323 North Audubon Road c1931. Behind her,  you can see the rear of the home at 5732 Lowell Avenue.

Happy Birthday to Nancy Ostrander c1932 at 323 North Audubon Road. Behind her you can see a lovely grape arbor. 

Guinevere Ostrander c1940 with Smokey at 323 North Audubon Road. 

Nancy Ostrander in front of 323 North Audubon Road c1942

Esperanza Rodriguez (later Myers) came to live with the Ostranders in 1927. She grew up in the mountains of Cuba and knew only Spanish and German when she arrived in Irvington. Maids and nannies received Thursday as a day off. Miss Rodriguez took English lessons from Mrs. Williams who lived at 345 North Audubon Road. The girls called her "Tata." She remained a part of the Ostrander family for the rest of her life. 

323 North Audubon Road in 2015
The historic images are courtesy of Nancy Ostrander.  

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