Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Schweiters Move to Dewey Avenue

Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters did something unusual in the middle of the Great Depression. They bought a house in Irvington. It probably helped that they both had good jobs and a double income. Mr. Schweiters met his bride at the Kiefer-Stewart Company, a wholesale drug business, where they were both employed. He worked in the tobacco division and supplied drug stores and hotel lobbies with tobacco products. Some of his clients even included the resort at French Lick, Indiana. Mrs. Schweiters worked as a stenographer and secretary for the company although she resigned once she began having children. In 1937, the couple took the big leap and purchased the modest two-bedroom bungalow at 6076 Dewey Avenue. Built in 1929, the Hannah, Williams, and Elliott families had already moved in and out of the dwelling by 1937. Longevity arrived to the house when the Schweiters set up housekeeping. For over fifty years, a member of their family dwelled in this Dewey Avenue abode. The couple raised their two daughters, Barbara and Dorothy, in the residence and everyday and into the night the family could hear the nearby passing trains behind their home along the Pennsylvania Rail Line.

6076 Dewey Avenue after a winter snowstorm in 1939. Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters had already lived here for two years when this photo was snapped. 

An apparent spring snowstorm struck the city of Indianapolis in April of 1940. Buds can be seen on some of the trees now laden with snow. The Schweiters family dwelled at 6076 Dewey Avenue at the time. 

The backyard of 6076 Dewey Avenue in January of 1939. Behind the home, you can see the roofline of the double at 145-47 South Catherwood Avenue. The home at the left of the photo remains a mystery at this time. 

The Schweiters of 6076 Dewey Avenue documented a January snowstorm in 1939. 

Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters proudly posed with their daughter Barbara on a bench in the backyard of their home at 6076 Dewey Avenue. Behind the family, you can see the home at 6072 Dewey Avenue. The Ricketts family dwelled there when this photo was snapped. 

Frank and Leota Roehm, the maternal grandparents of Barbara and Dorothy Schweiters posed with Barbara Schweiters in the backyard of 6076 Dewey Avenue. Mr. Roehm would later construct a playhouse for his granddaughters which still stands in the backyard in 2016. 

Dorothy and Barbara Schweiters paused for a photograph along the back sidewalk at 6076 Dewey Avenue in 1943. It was a warm summer day and the perfect opportunity to play with the family dog. 
The historic images are courtesy of Deedee Davis.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Our Lady of Lourdes First Communion--1944

The young ladies gathered in front of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on East Washington Street for their first communion in the spring of 1944. They all wore white dresses and veils. Somewhere in that line of girls stood Barbara Schweiters,  the daughter of Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters, of 6076 Dewey Avenue. Behind the girls, traffic was parked along East Washington Street and a bus had just passed along the intersection with North Hawthorne Lane. Across the street, you can see the sign for the Gulf Filling Station run by Don W. Miller at 5302 East Washington Street. (demolished) The most visible home in the photo was that of Joseph and Josephine Kernel, who dwelled at 5370 East Washington Street in 1944. Dr. Kernel was an optometrist as was one of his daughters. Next door at 5360 East Washington Street, you can see residence of Karl and Agness Kernel. Mr. Kernel was the brother to Joseph. Another brother, Paul, lived just around the corner at 5040 Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive. Beyond the Kernel homes, loomed the Butler apartment building at 5230 East Washington Street. Although it is hard to believe, all of those young girls in the photo would be in their eighties if they are still living in 2016. Sadly, the life of Barbara Schweiters was cut short as she passed away from the effects of polio in 1949.

A procession of young girls with their hands clasped prepared to enter Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on East Washington Street in 1944.  

The historic image is courtesy of Deedee Davis. Information on the Kernel brothers came from the Polk's City Directory and census records. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

At the Edge of the City--1950

Residents in southeastern Irvington lived near farms and meadows in the 1940s. The Schweiters family, who dwelled at 6076 Dewey Avenue, could walk to the edge of their street and find themselves in the country. South Sheridan Avenue was merely a dirt path and was likely a farm lane. Sometime in the winter of 1950, Irene Spitzer and Dorothy Schweiters went for a walk on a cold and frosty day along what would become South Sheridan Avenue. Behind them you can see vast stretches of undeveloped land and a tree line near English Avenue.

Irene Spitzer (left) and Dorothy Schweiters along with Smokey the dog walked upon South Sheridan Avenue in the winter of 1950. Small brick houses occupy this site in 2016. 

Irene Spitzer (left), the daughter of Edmund and Freida Spitzer of 6064 Dewey Avenue, posed with Dorothy Schweiters, the daughter of Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters of 6076 Dewey Avenue, in the winter of 1950 along South Sheridan Avenue. Note that the "street" was merely a dirt path at that point in time. 

Dorothy Schweiters (left) and her friend Irene Spitzer posed in the fields near their homes on Dewey Avenue at the edge of the city line in 1950. The Marbar Development Corporation added 100 homes upon the site in 1951. Beyond the girls, you can see the farms that existed just east of Irvington. 

In the summer and fall of 1951, contractors for the Marbar Subdivision were busy constructing 100 brick homes on the empty land near the Schweiters. On December 2, 1951, the public was invited to tour two of the model homes at 6019 Ivanhoe Street and at 338 South Webster Avenue. The small dwellings were marketed towards veterans and cost $11,500. Veterans needed to put at least $1,000 towards a down payment, but they could also finance that money as well. Those who qualified paid $63.89 for their mortgage. Visitors to the model homes noted the hardwood floors, full basements, tiled bathrooms, storm doors and windows, automatic furnaces, and Youngstown metal kitchen cabinets. The Schweiters still living nearby would have watched as their rural playground vanished and traffic along their once quiet street increased dramatically as families moved into the modern residences. (Information for the Marbar Subdivision came from: Indianapolis Star, December 2, 1951, 36; Indianapolis Star,  January 20, 1952, 30)

6019 Ivanhoe Street served as the model home for the Marbar Subdivision on December 2, 1951.

Typical modest brick homes in the Marbar Subdivision along South Webster Avenue in 2016
The historic photograph and information on the Schweiters family is courtesy of Deedee Davis.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Pastoral Scene at the Edge of Irvington--1937

Norbert and Dorothy Schweiters moved into the bungalow at 6076 Dewey Avenue in 1937. Both of them worked for the Kiefer-Stewart Company at the time. The home would be an ideal setting to raise their two daughters, Barbara and Dorothy, as the property abutted undeveloped land and plenty of space for their kids to play. Most of the homes along the north side of Dewey Avenue bordered acreage along the Pennsylvania Rail Line.

In the historic photograph, taken in the summer of 1937, Mr. Schweiters posed in his backyard at 6076 Dewey Avenue. Behind him you can see a large barn (demolished) that was likely constructed by the Dietz family decades before. To the left of the barn, you can see the double at 145-147 South Catherwood Avenue. The Polks' City Directory from 1937 notes that James and Daisy Brown along with their three children, James, Jr., Alice, and Dorothy, dwelled in at least one side of that double. The Browns were part of a small black settlement north of the Pennsylvania Rail line, east of Arlington Avenue, and south of East Washington Street. Mr. Brown was listed as a laborer. In the photograph, you can see a newly-laid stone path towards a gate opening into the empty acreage behind the Schweiters home. More information on the Schweiters family and their neighborhood will be forthcoming.

J.W. "Norbert" Schweiters posed in his backyard at 6076 Dewey Avenue in the summer of 1937. Behind him you can see a long forgotten barn in the acreage along the Pennsylvania Rail Line. To the left of the barn you can see the small double at 145-147 South Catherwood Avenue.

The land along the south side of the former Pennsylvania Rail Line east of Arlington Avenue remains largely undeveloped 2016.  

The historic image is courtesy of Deedee Davis. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Tribute to Thomas Richard Palmer 1921-2016

We have received word of the passing of Richard "Dick" Palmer. I never met Mr. Palmer, but I felt as if I knew him through the photographs and stories that he shared via his daughter Janet Chapman. Although his health was failing, he was still able to recall his life along North Audubon Road.  He spent his childhood and formative years in a charming stuccoed bungalow at 333 North Audubon Road. He was the only surviving child of Walter and Mary Fee Palmer.  Dick had many friends in the neighborhood and graduated from Arsenal Tech High School in 1939 and Miami University in Ohio in 1943. During World War II, he flew B-25 Mitchell aircraft and instructed others on how to fly the machine. He later married and started both a career and a family and only returned to Irvington to visit his parents. If we could travel back in time and walk along North Audubon Road in the late 1920s or early 1930s, we would likely see Dr. Walter Palmer coming home from his job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and we would likely see Mary Fee Palmer sitting on their long front porch watching their son play with his latest toy automobile or plane. Dick Palmer remained an enthusiast about autos and planes for the remainder of his life. Can you hear the laughter and shrieks from the other kids on the block? I can.

This post is dedicated to Thomas Richard Palmer. I am particularly grateful to Nancy Ostrander, who put me in touch with Janet Chapman. Mrs. Chapman scanned dozens of family photographs and interviewed her father so that I could publish his stories on this blog. To read more about the Palmers of Irvington click on the "Palmer" link below.

Mary Fee Palmer holds her son Dick in 1922 on the front porch of their brand new home at 333 North Audubon Road.

Dick Palmer graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1939 and Miami University in 1943.

Walter and Mary Fee Palmer raised their son Dick in this lovely home at 333 North Audubon Road.