World War II had been over for four years and Harry Truman was President of the United States. If the young people paid attention to the news, they would have noticed that Henry Schriecker, a Democrat, was the Governor of Indiana while Albert Feeney, another Democrat, served as the mayor of Indianapolis. Their parents likely read in the local newspapers that an organization called NATO had just been formed. Many of the adults probably worried about the Soviet Union as the Red Scare gripped Americans. By the end of year, the Soviets would have the atomic bomb. Some might have breathed a sigh of relief upon reading that the USSR had ended the Berlin Blockade. Hoosiers might have read or heard that Chaim Weizmann became the first president of Israel or that the Irish people finally received full independence from the United Kingdom.
On May 30, 1949, a television station called WFBM-TV started in Indianapolis. It would be several years before residents of Irvington would start placing these bulky boxes in their homes, but many in this photo had likely heard of the device. Most of the kids would have still listened to their favorite programs on the radio. Tarzan, Superman, the Lone Ranger, Buck Rogers, Captain Midnight, Lassie, and The Shadow were just some of the radio series that captivated the kids in this photo. Many of teens likely listened to the dramatic coverage of the Indy 500 that year where Bill Holland raced to victory. Nearby at the Irving Theater they could watch "Canadian Pacific," which was being held over for a second week in early June. Their parents likely viewed "Portrait of Jennie," starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten.
|A dramatic Western ran at the Irving in early June, 1949|
|"Portrait of Jennie" was not initially received very well by the public, but the film has held up throughout the decades. It played at the Irving in early June of 1949.|
In August of 1948, Miss Wallace Montague replaced Mildred Orr as the principal at #57. Miss Montague had just spent a year on a teacher's exchange in England. She had previously served as a principal for the Indianapolis Public Schools. Throughout the autumn of 1948, Miss Montague spoke to groups about her experience in England including to the PTA at #57 on November 16, 1948. Many other educators influenced the children in this photo including Abbie Kanz, Genevieve Burns, Martha Barber, Helen Loepper, Laura Benson, Ruby Winders, Hershel Whitaker, Virgil Wise, and numerous others.
|Miss Montague served as the principal of School #57. On September 21, 1948, the Indianapolis News featured her on the front page. Miss Montague had just returned from England where she had been on an exchange.|
I was able to obtain the school photograph courtesy of the Sohn family. I first heard from Bill Sohn and then his brother Anton. The Sohns grew up in a bungalow at 378 South Downey Avenue. More about this family will be forthcoming. Anton reports that he became life-long friends with many of the guys in this image. They later formed a social club at Howe High School and gathered well into their adult years. They called their adult club, the Gentlemen's Serenity Club of Pistol Creek. The one aspect that they all shared was a love of nature.
|Their friendship began both at School 57 and at Howe but over the years, these Irvington men gathered to hike, fish, hunt, and enjoy the beauty of nature.|
Sources: Sohn Family Collection; On Miss Montague: Indianapolis News, August 11, 1948, 17; "Going to School in England," Indianapolis Star, November 14, 1948, 52; Irving Theater Movies: Indianapolis News, June 9, 1949.