Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Marriage of Gene and Jean: A Wedding Celebration on Downey Avenue--1942

1942 had been a difficult year for the Allied powers during World War II. Many young men and some young women were heading off to various fronts. Worry gripped Irvington families as they bid good bye to their loved ones. The Germans and Japanese had gained significant ground. Under these frightful times, Eugene Fife, Jr. and Jean Booth decided to marry. The handsome couple had met at Butler University. Jean had been named Queen of the May her senior year. Eugene or Gene had deep ties to the campus because his mother Evelyn Henderson had been a professor of theater at the college. Gene had already graduated from an officer's school for the US Navy on the Notre Dame campus so the couple decided to tie the knot on September 30, 1942, before he shipped out to sea.

Jean dwelled at 280 South Downey Avenue. She was the fourth child of Dr. John and Corinne Booth. Dr. Booth was an ordained minister for the Disciples of Christ although he worked for the Board of Church Extension as the Executive Secretary. He read the vows to the couple on the day of their wedding in the Downey Avenue Christian Church. The ceremony took place at 4:00PM. It had been a gloriously sunny day. Marjorie Booth Watkins, a sister to Jean, served as her maid of honor while Roscoe Batts served as Gene's best man.  The couple hosted a small reception in the foyer of the church, a building that no longer stands in Irvington as church leaders replaced it with the current edifice in 1952.

After the ceremony, the families walked or drove down to 280 South Downey Avenue where the Booths hosted a dinner for the young couple. Mr. Fife had graduated from the Indiana University Law School in 1939 so he was able to resume his law career once the war was over. At some point in the day, the Booths and the Fifes gathered for a few photographs. In one image, the couple posed next to their parents in the front yard at 280. Behind them, you can see the brand new home at 261 South Downey Avenue. It would not be long before Gene was shipped out to sea for the war effort. Jean followed him to whichever port he was based in. Thankfully, he came home from the war and the couple settled in Indianapolis although not in Irvington. Gene later became an elected judge in Marion County. The couple had two children.

Jean Booth posed for the photograph c1940, a few years before her wedding in the front yard at 280 Downey Avenue. No houses stood across the street at that point as the Thompson/Hibben mansion had been torn down and none of the smaller homes in the 200 block had been built yet. 

Every May, Butler students crowned a Queen of the May.  Jean Booth of 280 South Downey Avenue, received this honor in 1938.

The Fifes and Booths gathered for a family photo on the day of Eugene Fife, Jr. and Jean Booth's wedding on September 30, 1942.  Behind them, you can see the newly built Cobb family home at 261 S. Downey Avenue. Pictured (left to right): Eugene Fife, Sr., Evelyn Henderson Fife, Eugene Fife, Jr, Jean Booth Fife, Corinne Schultz Booth, Dr. John H. Booth

Jean Booth Fife stood next to her sister and maid of honor, Marjorie Booth Watkins on September 30, 1942. Behind the young women you can see 261 South Downey Avenue.

The happy couple, Eugene Fife, Jr. and his new bride, Jean Booth Fife, posed in the front yard at 280 South Downey Avenue on September 30, 1942. 

Eugene Fife, Jr. and his wife, Jean Booth Fife posed in the "woods" next to the Booth home at 280 South Downey Avenue in the spring of 1943. Mr. Fife served in the Navy during World War II.  Mrs. Fife followed him from port to port throughout the war.
The historic images and stories for this post are courtesy of Mac Fife, the son of Eugene and Jean Booth Fife.

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