Ruth Fulton (1903-1986) grew up in Hindsboro, Illinois. A talented student, young Ruth loved to write poetry. Her family, even to this day, treasure her poems and travel journals. Upon her graduation from high school in 1921, she moved to Indianapolis where her brother William, a dentist in Irvington, was living. Two sisters, Helen and Mabel, also resided in the Indianapolis area. Upon moving to the city, Ruth applied for nursing training at the Protestant Deaconess Hospital at the corner of Ohio Street and Senate Avenue. She was accepted and worked as a nurse for the next eleven years.
Anton Sohn and Ruth Fulton married on February 1, 1933, at Mr. Sohn's bungalow at 378 South Downey Avenue. Mr. Sohn was able to purchase the house at the height of the Great Depression because his grocery store at 1035 Fletcher Avenue managed to turn a profit during the hard times. He paid $4000 for the house in 1931. Built in 1915, the dwelling had previously belonged to the Olsen family. Mr. Sohn told his son Bill years later that many homes in Irvington, especially those along South Ritter Avenue, could be found at a cheap price during the Depression. Mr. Sohn, a financially prudent man, resisted the temptation to buy other nearby properties.
The modest one-and-a-half-story residence would serve as the Sohn family home for over fifty years. The couple raised four children in the bungalow. Dr. Anton Sohn, a son of Anton and Ruth Sohn, in his family memoir, Straight and Narrow (1992) noted that the house:
...was about1,200 square feet and consisted of six rooms, not including the bath, pantry, and porches. Oak hardwood floors were throughout the house and the walls were papered. When Bill (his brother) and I were older, part of the upstairs was finished with a bedroom and a full bathroom.
Dr. Sohn noted that the house had a:
coal chute under the kitchen window, but it was sealed when a gas furnace was installed after the War. Before then, Dad would let the coal fire burn out during the night. In the morning, we lit the oven and congregated in the kitchen until the furnace heated the house.
The family planted a victory garden during World War II. Mrs. Sohn had a green thumb and planted a variety of flowers including many scented species, which filled the house with wonderful smells. The children played with the neighboring kids along Downey and Ritter Avenues. The kids grew up hearing the sounds of trains along the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the noise associated with the busy Irvington Ice and Coal Company on South Ritter Avenue.
In part two, you will learn more about the children and what it was like growing up along Downey Avenue in the 1930s and 40s.
|Ruth Fulton Sohn's Wedding Announcement in 1933 (Courtesy of Indianapolis Star)|
|Anton Sohn, who lived at 378 South Downey Avenue, posed Bill, Annalouise, and Anton Sohn in 1938. (Image courtesy of Bill Sohn)|
|378 South Downey Avenue on June 11, 2019|
Sources: Interview with Bill Sohn May 30, 2019; Anton P. Sohn, The Straight and Narrow, (Reno, Nevada, 1992). E-mail correspondence with both Bill and Anton Sohn.