Monday, December 29, 2008
G.C. Murphy's (and the donuts)
Lincoln Bank (and the church-like ceilings)
B&B Loans (and the guitars and other instruments in the windows)
Riegels (and the smell of tobacco)
And then - there was the clock that hung off of the Peoples Trust Bank building.
It was located in a sweet place - near the corner of Wayne and Calhoun. It was across the street from Murphy's and directly next to a building that used to be called Grand Leader (and I think later - Stillman's Department Store).
The clock was really cool because it had four sides of glass and was enclosed by an impressive brass-looking shell. It was affixed to the building and as I walked under it, I always imagined that one day, it might fall down and hit me on the head.
Never anyone else - just me :). I was such the drama queen - even then.
In 1982, Fort Wayne, in its many we-must-tear-down-every-decent-building-in-sight adventures, rid itself of the Peoples Trust Bank building HOWEVER - someone had some forethought to store the clock away.
I'd like to hug that person. Seriously.
Because now, in all of its glory, it has returned (according to the Downtown Times) and is now located outside the Baker Street Train Station.
Here are some pictures of the clock's past lives that I scooped up from my favorite place - CONTENTdm (ACPL).
This was just a painting of the clock on the side of the Peoples Trust Bank Building...
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I don't know what made me go over to the Fort Wayne Newspaper site last night or even, what made me browse through the obituaries. Seems like an odd thing to do, doesn't it?
And then I saw it - the obituary for Donald G. Scott.
Founder of Scott's Foods.
Entrepreneur and employer of hundreds of thousands of Fort Wayne citizens.
And a man who knew the right way to pack a damn bag of groceries.
I kid you not.
In 1985, I applied for the position of cashier at Scott's. There was a massive 'job fair' like event and I went in and filled out the paperwork and talked with a couple of HR-types.
Don Scott was there. He shook my hand and asked me why I wanted to work for him. I must say, when you're 18 and applying for your very first 'real' job, stuff like this can be intimidating. But you see - I had absolutely no idea who he was or how important he was. I was just 18. Fresh. Naive. Big-eyed wonderment. And all about complete honesty.
I looked up at him and said, "Sir, I'm not sure why I want to work for you specifically. I'm looking for my first job, one that can help me pay my way through college. I saw the advertisement in the paper and thought I'd come down here and apply.
He looked at me, sort of gruff like and said, "I like honesty. You work hard, you'll get far in life young lady."
I smiled and didn't think much of it. After all, it was the same type of advice that my grandpa used to give to me.
When I received a phone call that they wanted to hire me and I would be starting with the next training class (out at the Decatur Road Scott's training facility), I was elated! I was still in high school and didn't yet have my driver's license so there were some logistics to making this work. But gosh - I remember that time like it was yesterday.
A woman named Marty was our "trainer". We were up on the second floor of the store in a conference room at the start of our training. She took us through the history of Scott's and the philosophy of the company. When I saw Don Scott's picture, I just about died of embarrassment. Sheesh! I should have given him a more eloquent answer than what came out of my mouth.
But oh well - I was here. I did get hired.
Part of the training was not only 'book learning' but also hands on with the register. That was the fun part! Scanners were fairly new (I think that they were "NCR" machines) and so we were learnin' in a high tech fashion.
There was one particular day though, that everything was non-high tech.
That was the day that Don Scott made an appearance. He was there to teach us how to bag groceries properly.
This man was passionate about groceries being packed in a way that maximized space, evenly distributed the weight of the goods, and most importantly - ensured that the customer left with their high quality items in tact.
It was one of my most favorite training sessions - ever - from any company I have been employed at.
Even today, when I go to the grocery store, I still pack like Don Scott taught me. I separate out the frozen from the dry goods. I layer the bottom with canned goods and the top with boxes. I separate out the eggs and bread. They can go on the very top of each bag OR they can have their own individual bag.
When I happen to go through a non-self serve line, I often get remarks from the cashiers or bag boys/girls about the meticulous way in which I pack up my groceries. I just tell them that I used to work in a grocery store and this was how I was taught. Seems second nature to me.
Don Scott. I'll never forget your pragmatic approach to the 'right' things nor the opportunities that you gave me and hundreds of thousands of other kids in Fort Wayne. Yours is a life to emulate. Rest in peace sir.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I was chatting with someone just a few days ago. I asked them what their plans were for Christmas and they asked me mine.
Oh...how times have changed.
When I was little, my grandparents were the center of the universe and wherever they were - that's where Christmas was.
Initially, Christmas was at the apartment building - 808 Clay Street.
(Pictured: Wayne E. Roy, Irene Roy, Kristina Frazier, Frank Frazier, Patricia S. Frazier - Christmas 1967)
Everyone - my Aunts (Carolyn and Barb), their husbands (Jim and Bob), and my parents, plus me, my sister, and eventually my two cousins - Wendy and Cindy...we all gathered here and celebrated Christmas.
Church was a priority. My great-grandmother (Helena Starost Roy Kline) was a devout catholic and my Grandpa and his three daughters were obedient attenders of catholic mass - especially on Christmas. Cathedral was just a hop, skip and a jump away - which was good because we could walk there and back from the apartment building.
As you can see from this picture, my grandpa is dressed up. This was his "Sunday suit" - or at least that is what I called it. He wasn't one to wear fancy things - but you could count on the suit coming out for Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals, and baptisms :).
My grandma wasn't much of a church goer. She would stay behind - busying herself in the kitchen. You could always count on pleasant smells (and sometimes unusual as my grandma was known to stray from the typical Christmas feast).
My grandparents moved to Jackson, Michigan sometime in the early 70's.
Even though my family (and Aunt Carolyn's) was in Fort Wayne and Aunt Barb's was in Elkhart - it was never doubted that we would all travel up to Jackson, Michigan and celebrate Christmas together as a family.
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Patricia J. Frazier, Cindy Baughman, Wendy Welker - Christmas 1975)
We would usually drive up the day / night before so that my mom and aunt's could help my grandma with all of the cooking.
Grandpa liked to sit in his big, overstuffed brown recliner chair, watching his black and white television, smoking his cigar.
The four cousins - well - we had an absolute blast! I have to tell you that only having one sibling at the time (my sister) was boring and frustrating. Getting to hang with Cindy and Wendy was awesome because it was fresh blood to pick on! Normally though, we'd play board games, dress- up, go out side and sled, etc....There was never a time where we sat around and asked to go home. Being at grandma and grandpa's house was always awesome.
This is where I distinctly remember the grown-ups and kids table. The grown-ups sat around the dining room table and the four girls - well - we got our own table. It was a 4 x 4 card table with folding chairs to boot.
(Pictured: Patricia S. Frazier, Frank Frazier - Christmas dining room table, 1975)
Some other traditions that stand out for me - my grandma allowing us to pick one ornament from the tree to take home and my grandpa getting on the floor and handing out the gifts, one by one. As a kid whose family struggled to make ends meet, Christmas was the motherload from a gift perspective. The night before we opened gifts - none of us girls could hardly sleep.
In the late 70's, my grandparents moved back to Fort Wayne and they lived in the Sheridan Court Apartments on Union Street.
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Frank Frazier, Patricia S. Frazier, Patricia J. Frazier, Jason Frazier - Christmas 1978)
This was the very last Christmas that we would spend together as a family unit - that is - me, my siblings, and my parents. My parents split up a month after this and everything in our lives changed.
Despite my parents divorce (and my two aunt's all divorcing and re-marrying), my grandparents had this unspoken thing about keeping the Christmas tradition alive.
In the early eighties, they moved to a house on Third Street. And even though I was in high school and my sister, and cousins were also moving up into "that age", the Christmas tradition was not to be messed with.
The main difference about the house on Third Street is that instead of just visiting it, I also lived there for a period of time. It didn't ruin my excitement about seeing everyone and by this time, I was starting to like some of my grandma's weird food selections :).
(Pictured: Kristina Frazier, Cindy Wilkins, Wendy Welker, Patty Frazier - Christmas 1985)
This picture here - is extremely precious to me. It's the very last photo of me, my sister, and my two cousins...taken with my grandfather. Five months later, he would become very ill and less than a year after that, he died.
Christmas has not been the same since.
My grandma lost the spring in her step and eventually, we all drifted away.
There have been a couple times that an effort has been made for all of us to get together.
(Pictured: Cyndi Wilkins, Kristina Frazier - Christmas, 1994?)
But most of the time, it doesn't happen. Some of it had to do with the strain in the relationships between sisters (my mom and two aunts) and sometimes it was just a question of other obligations and/or distance that some lived away from Fort Wayne.
To be quite honest, there have been several times - holiday or not holiday - where I have chosen not to take part in a family get together because of my own anxiety. Since the death of my grandfather and the multiple changes that my cousins have gone through - I just don't know how to "be" around them. For years, my sister, Cindy, and Wendy - we were glue for each other...Through the second round of siblings (ugh - all boys!), to the divorce of our parents (and their subsequent remarriages). The multiple moves, the multiple dysfunctions of the family (i.e. drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, sexual abuse, depression...). The boyfriends, the jobs, the cars, the booze...
Now, it is as if we don't even know each other.
So you remember, at the beginning of this entry, I said that I was chatting with someone about what our plans were for the Christmas holiday...
After I told this person what I was doing, all of these memories came flooding back to me (in about a span of four seconds). I remember writing to her, "it's bizarre how relationships change over time". That was my way to acknowledge that my Christmas has a definite hole in it. The absence of my grandfather, the silent treatment from my father, and the evaporated relationships that used to be - Me, Patty, Cindy, Wendy.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
There was more to the "Spotlight On Youth" program. Here are the other three pages. If you click on each thumbnail, it should be larger and therefore, more readable. Just in case, I decided to list the names of all of the people who were in this particular recital. Are you one of them? Do you know any of the folks listed?? If so, let me know!
Jill Ann Shaw
Jo Lynn Shaw
Tina Le Compete
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
On May 17, 1973 (my parent's 7th wedding anniversary), I performed for my very first time in front of an audience in a dance recital held at South Side High School.
I don't remember being nervous. I do remember loving all of the fun costumes that I got to wear. The stage seemed enormous - I've never been back to South Side since so I don't know if I was comparing it to the stage at Indian Village Elementary (and that was small in comparison) or if South Side's was really humungous!
That's me - girl on the end (all the way to the far right). You'll notice that what I'm doing seems to be just a tad bit different from the other two girls. My grandma swears up and down (even to this day) that I was doing the routine perfectly and the other two girls were missing their moves. Dontcha just love grandma's?!
In this picture, I am almost in the middle (count four over from the right). I seem to be doing pretty much was everyone else is but NOTICE the swinging arms and the amount of space between me and each girl beside me :). Is it my imagination OR are those other girls lookin' at me?! Was I doing something special or were they watching a freak show in motion? I guess we will never know....
I am not in this picture.
Nor in this one.
But you see, these four pictures, along with the program, are the only physical/tangible things I have left from my Marlene's Dance Studio days.
My red hair bow, my red tutu, and the red/white striped outfit, and my tap shoes you see in the first and second picture - I packed those very carefully into a box that I kept with me at almost all times. When we had to pick up and move to yet another house or another school in the later years, it was part of the stuff that I kept close to me - like my identity box.
Whenever I felt lost or insignificant or sad - I would look at the stuff in my box and be reminded that I was someone who mattered and despite what was going on around me, everything would get better. That was the hope that I needed to hold on to in order to get through that day or night or week or month.
When I was 17, my box disappeared forever and as silly as it may sound, it's something that still makes me sad. It's just "stuff" - I know...the symbolism of its existence though - reinforced so many things for me and without it, well...I'm not even sure what to say. It may be the reason why I started this blog about a year ago. Maybe this is my new identity box...
Monday, December 22, 2008
Things were not so (I'm looking for the right word)...'corporate' and 'big'.
There were many small business owners not only for retail but also for services. I don't know if my parents consciously patronized small business owners, but it seemed like we did a lot of that thing back in my childhood.
One of my stories from last month (http://childofthefort.blogspot.com/2008/10/imagination-can-alter-life.html) explained how me, my sister, and my friend Erika, became interested in stuff like tap and gymnastics.
And sometime in 1972, we began lessons over at Marlene's Dance Studio.
Who was Marlene?
I didn't really know back then. When I started to look into writing this blog entry, I became curious and I looked through a lot of stuff, trying to piece things together.
Unfortunately, it was her obituary that gave me the most background information about her. Marlene Huntley died in March 2002 at the age of 63. She was originally from Bay City, Michigan and had worked at Hall's on Bluffton Road as a waitress for several years.
I don't know if she had a professional dance background or how she decided to open up her own dance studio. I also don't know when her studio shut down or how her life played out (with the exception of what the obituary told me). I guess yet another mystery that will go unanswered...
Marlene's dance studio was located - get this - on West Dewald Street.
West Dewald is perhaps - not the hot, happenin' area that it once was, but back then, the neighborhood was clean, safe, and full of kids who rode their bikes and played kickball and dodgeball in the street. I haven't been back in that area for over 30 years - I wonder what it's like today???
Marlene didn't have a fancy dance studio. Nope. She used her house for lessons. It looked like the area that would have been her living room was completely ripped up/redone to look like a dance studio. There were hardwood floors, a mirror that stretched from ceiling to floor and covered an entire wall. There was one of those ballet bars fastened to the wall where the mirror was. She had tons of vinyl and one giant/loud record player that was quite awesome to six/seven year olds...
Note: Thanks to Scott Howard for locating Marlene's house on google street maps....it barely resembles the place I used to visit 2 times a week.
My mother signed me and Patty up for tap and acrobatics (aka gymnastics). Tap was my thing. Gymnastics - not so much. I think it was because I was tall and lanky and not very bendy :).
After school, my mom used to make the three of us (me, Patty, Erika), practices our new hobby on our enclosed front porch. During the winter time, it was really cold so we would start out with our winter coats on.
I think if anyone would have seen Erika doing a back bend with her big old parka coat on, they would have had a giggle. She was challenged with the hood (always) and we had quite a debate on whether the hood (with the furry stuff on the outside of it) should be up or down. Down guaranteed major repercussions including accidentally smacking yourself in the head (with the hood) on the way back up from the back bend or with it up, you risked major static cling (thanks to the Indiana winters - dry dry dry climate).
I guess if my parents would have just heated the area - this would have taken away the whole parka dilemma :).
We knew that when it was time for Gilligan's Island, we were done practicing on the front porch and we could come in to watch Marianne, Ginger, and the Professor.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Here's another picture of the same spot - now vacated by the car dealer. I took it in July 2008 as I was driving out of town.
My husband (then boyfriend) purchased his first car from this place in 1988. It was a Ford Escort - grey. I think - actually - it was a 1988 1/2 - which was weird but that's how Ford labeled it.
Oh - and he had a car before the Ford Escort but it was inherited from his dad SO you know - it was a big deal making this particular purchase on his own. If I remember correctly, it cost him about $7800.
Friday, December 12, 2008
But you know, not when I was 1 or 2 years old. That stuff, I rely on from my family.
The one story that has been told to me from the beginning of time is the one that involves me terrorizing my Aunt Barb.
When I was born, she was still in high school - in fact - I think she was a freshman in high school. Until I arrived, she was "the baby" of the family. And then here I came - and I turned her world inside out :).
This picture is of me - looks like oh - 18 months? - in her bedroom on 808 Clay Street. What am I doing? I'm pointing at her albums. Most likely, albums that contained music by The Beatles as she was keenly obsessed with the young men from the UK.
The story is, when she came home from school, and I would hear her start to come up the stairs (or when I would peer out the window and see her entering the building), I would run to her room and start grabbing for her records.
This, of course, would cause a great reaction on her part. I hear that she used to chase me around the apartment in order to retrieve her beloved collection.
I never knew if I broke any of her 45's or 33's (gosh I hope not), but obviously, I had an ornery streak in me from a very early age :).
And yes - that streak - it's still alive and kicking.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
First, it was taken on the porch area of an apartment building in Fort Wayne which no longer exists (808 Clay Street). I think next time I'm in town, I'll want to look down Clay and see if I can capture the same scene (and showing how instead of a building - there's just a parking lot there).
Second, my dad is dressed in something other than jeans and a t-shirt. Now mind you - I've got lots to say about what he's wearing. I question the coordination of the colors and I wonder if high-waters were "in" back then or if it was just a case of him wearing what was handed down to him. I'm thinking the latter is the case.
Straight Creek, Kentucky. Lived in a five room little shack. Ten kids. Coal miner father. Mom who grew most of their food in the hills of KY. So yes, hand me downs - that was probably the case here.
I think he looks incredibly handsome. Not like in a Brad Pitt way though. It's hard to explain. When I look at this picture - his smile reminds me of how charming he could be. When my dad was sober and around, he was a really neat person. So - this picture - I think - it's like a snapshot of a good memory of him...
So....switching gears a bit....
My relationship with my dad has been non-existent for about 16 years now.
WOW! I didn't realize it was that long until I typed it out.
Generally, I am the type of person not to hold grudges and so if any one of my friends told me that they didn't have a relationship with their father, I would probably encourage them to stop that nonsense and reach out to them asap. After all, life is incredibly short and so many people end up regretting so much after it's way too late.
My situation is a little different.
My dad is remarried and his wife has a strong hatred for me. He won't go against her wishes and thus we are where we are today.
Over time, I have learned to compartmentalize the fact that there is a lack of a relationship but unfortunately, twice a year (Father's Day and Christmas), it sneaks up on me and the old wounds rear their ugly head.
Christmas - well - that's his birthday. And you know - that's just right around the corner...
Sunday, December 7, 2008
At first glance, I noticed, that this was a picture of me. After I had scanned it in and was looking to tag it, I really looked at it for the very first time.
I am in my Grandma and Grandpa's apartment - which no longer exists. 808 Clay Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana. My grandparents managed the apartments for some guy named Clyde Briggs and they lived there for about ten years.
When I was born, my parents moved into an apartment down the hall. I was the first grandchild and I spent a considerable amount of time with my grandparents.
Looking at the things that surround me in this picture, I am either in their bedroom or a spare bedroom. It's obvious that I'm gotten into stuff that belongs to others. I see mail on the floor. A book.
But what am I doing?
I'm putting on my grandpa's work shoes. They were black and had stiff laces. It's what he wore when he worked at the Fort Wayne Box Company.
I look at this picture and I laugh.
I don't remember it at all.
How conservative of me to just take my one shoe off and try his one shoe on. I always thought I was a throw caution to the wind kind of chick which would mean disposing of both shoes at the same time.
But still, I didn't know how to tie shoe laces back then. I slipped one shoe off (still tied tightly). Probably easier to explain just one shoe "coming off" then both shoes being off.
I do ramble on....but as I'm labeling this picture with things like 808 Clay Street, Apartment Building, Demolished, Grandparents Place, 1969, and Fort Wayne Indiana...I'm reminded that today would have been my grandpa's 87 birthday.
I'm usually very sad about these things but today - not as much as I have been in the past.
It's pictures like this that remind me...I was very fortunate to have a grandfather who loved me unconditionally...who taught me some of the best life lessons I've ever known...and who always knew that I was a little left of center...and to him...that was okay.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It's been far too long since I posted something here. I've been busy but also, I've had a bit of procrastinator/writer's block.
To kick myself into gear, I thought I'd post a picture from the past and ask how many things can you all identify correctly.
1) What year?
2) What street is this?
3) What are the cross streets
4) What parade?
5) What are the buildings/businesses pictured here?
Bonus: Do they still exist?
Labels: Fort Wayne Indiana
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I've really wanted to keep as much politics out of my blog as possible because the purpose of Child of the Fort is for me to document all of the special times - people, places, things - about growing up in Fort Wayne.
Tonight though, I'm making an exception.
Steve Corona is continuing his 28 + year reign of mediocrity on the school board. Fort Wayne citizens in the 5th District re-elected him tonight.
He - along with Mark Giaquinta and Wendy Robinson - will succeed in destroying the school district that I love...the school district that set me on the right path with the right teachers, the right principal, the right curriculum, and the appropriate level of rigor and discipline.
And this makes me incredibly sad because many of my memories are about my school, my teachers, and the activities I participated in while a student at FWCS.
I don't think that any of these folks are evil. I think though, that something has happened and they are more concerned with their own priorities, their own agendas, than what the students need and deserve. They also seem to not care - or maybe understand - that their lack of focus on the fundamentals will in the long run, hurt the economy of Fort Wayne.
That's right folks.
They will continue to turn out students who are unemployable.
Those who do not fall into this category will flock outside of Fort Wayne because higher paying, professional positions aren't around now and won't be around in the future.
They will spend the next two years, concerned about buildings and creating chaotic high school environments (i.e. the new magnet concept recycled from the 80's). They will suck more money out of the Fort Wayne economy and give nothing in return but feel good, PR moments.
* More marketing campaigns - that will involve the Asher Agency who produced the fliers for Corona's campaign (not to mention the school logo they redesigned and received payment for - and god knows what else they've done for school board members and administrators).
* They will try to close Elmhurst High School again.
* They will destroy the neighborhood school concept. The high school re-organization is the catalyst for this.
* I see at least two more elementary schools closed (candidates - Bloomington, Nebraska). Maybe another middle school.
* They will continue to not take responsibility or accountability for anything - fiscally or academically related. They will blame the economy, Evert Mol, Jon Olinger, Bill Anthis, Lester Grille, racists, parents, teachers, lutherans, baptists, and every other Joe the Plumber for the continuing decline of the school system.
* They will continue to take pseudo-kick backs (or maybe I should label this - the back scratching society???) from all of the folks who benefit from their plan to spend large amounts of taxpayer dollars for items that don't benefit the basic, educational needs of students.
* The number of special education students will continue to rise. Right now, they represent 21.4% of the FWCS population. That's 6,298 students. Students that currently have a graduation rate of about 50%. And those unemployable FWCS drop-outs will need to be supported by national, state, and local tax dollars.
* The number of disciplinary issues will continue to rise. Although Giaquinta had the balls to publicly state that FWCS had NO disciplinary issues - the state data shows otherwise - Suspension or Expulsion, Incidents per 100 Students 2006-07 - Fort Wayne Community Schools 30.6
31 out of 100 students. And this is labeled not a problem???
So tonight, I congratulate
* The Journal Gazette - for their continued support of not only mediocrity but for the support of the eventual self-destruction of a once-great school corporation.
* Superintendent Wendy - who is now breathing a sigh of relief because she will continue to move forward with the blank check mentality.
* Mark and Steve because now, they are rid of Jon Olinger which means that they can give more favors to those who support their campaign and who benefit from all of the taxpayer monies that are going to be collected to build Wendy's utopian village.
* The movers and shakers of Fort Wayne. You used to take a ton of pride in NOT being an Indianapolis-wannabee city yet you continue to lead the school district down this path. Five years from now, FWCS will be IPS. That's right - the path has been paved and the journey has already started.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
My sister Patty, me, and Ericka, used to spend a lot of time outdoors goofing off. When we were together (and maybe with other kids in the neighborhood) we would play the usual games of tag, red rover, ghost in the grave yard, and hide-n-go-seek.
But sometimes, there were no other kids to play with and when left to our own devices, we always managed to figure something out. In other words - boredom wasn't even in our vocabulary.
For example, while waiting for Selsa to drop off Ericka at my house one day, I stood outside and walked the curb of our street. I practiced putting one foot in front of another - like I was a gymnast walking on a balance beam. I'm sure that I had seen something like this on ABC Wide World of Sports - my whole goal at that time though - was to just pass time until Ericka got to my house.
Over time, using the curb as our balance beam became one of our games. We would judge each other - pretend that we were losing our balance - pretend that we were the most graceful girls that ever were. Sometimes, we danced on our balance beam.
I have no clue how it happened, but the next thing I knew, my mom and Selsa, had signed me, Ericka, and Patty up for classes with Marlene's Dance Studio.
We were enrolled in gymnastics and tap. While Patty and Ericka were much better at the gymnastics part, I was a total genius in the tap area.
Gymnastics significantly altered both Patty and Ericka's life. They both went on and excelled in gymnastics, receiving huge accolades in the form of awards and state recognitions.
And it all started - on the curb of Cedar Crest Circle. Who would have thought?!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The map probably looks familiar because I've posted it before. It's my memory of the kids that lived in my neighborhood, plotted out on each street. When I was in Fort Wayne in May, I stopped by the old neighborhood and snapped pictures of the houses where each one of my friend's lived. That one up there is the house where the Couch's lived.
In 1971, I made a lot of great friends at Indiana Village Elementary School. One in particular was Ericka Couch. We sat at table #6 (Miss Crouse's afternoon Kindergarten class) and I think we bonded because one of the other girl's who sat with us (her name was Smokey - I kid you not) - well she kind of scared us. We paired up out of fear - I guess there are worse things to start friendships over :).
Like me, Ericka was the oldest child with one sibling (her - younger brother Aaron, me - younger sister Patty).
We also happened to live in the same neighborhood - well kinda - as she was on the "outskirts" or what was known as Kyle Road. Not that I was allowed on Kyle Road at that age. It might as well have been Sandpoint Road as far as my parents were concerned. Crossing over to it was like asking for a car to hit you. Really. They were convinced that Kyle Road was a main thoroughfare, with wildly - out of control cars and trucks - that struck innocent children - dozens of them.
Another biggie: we also had staunch Catholic mothers and non-religious fathers.
But none of this came to light until one day when my mother dropped me off at school. Ericka's mom was there too. They introduced themselves based upon the fact that they had heard each other's daughter talk about the other (of course they never did know about the "fear" factor and they must have assumed we had gobs in common to bond so quickly).
Before we knew it, my mom (who had recently left her KMart job) and Ericka's mom, Selsa, had made this arrangement in which my mom would babysit Ericka and Aaron during the week. Selsa was an elementary school teacher at Ward Elementary and was looking for help with her two kids during the day. With me and Ericka becoming instant friends, this situation looked very perfect to our moms.
And I absolutely enjoyed having someone else aside from my sister to play with. Although Ericka wasn't really into Barbies, she was adventurous and would play in the ditch with me or on the swings and she was definitely a fan of Gilligan's Island and the Brady Bunch. And she's also the one that showed me how to climb trees. There was one at Scott's Court that was great climbing material - it was a cherry tree and many cherries were collected for pies from that tree...
But anyway - this friendship between our families was a big deal because as I've mentioned previously, my father was extremely racist. And the whole babysitting situation almost did not come to be...because Selsa wasn't white.
But she wasn't black. I'm saying this from the perspective of a six year old because when it came up in a discussion between my parents (of course I was listening - duh!) my dad flat out asked if Selsa was 'that word' which he always associated with non-white. That's when I learned that Selsa was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico and that she was married to Larry who was white. So even though my dad labeled this as an interracial marriage, the fact that Selsa wasn't black but "Mexican" must have been okay. I didn't understand the reasoning then (or even now) - I just know that this distinction is what made it okay for our families to socialize together.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
NOTE: I am live at the Indiana State Fair today - blogging about the Barack Obama Rally for Change. I'm including just a small portion of it here - just cause it really applies to what I write about on Child of the Fort.
For information on today's rally, check out Fort Wayne Politics later - where my stuff will appear.
This is my first time blogging about anything remotely political but after thinking things over, I felt strongly that not being here today would be a big miss on my part.
Back in my younger years, I was quite the activist. Maybe I wasn't as "radical" as people wanted me to be but in my own way, I stood up for what I believed in and I was all about stickin' it to 'da man'.
I did a lot of that as a student at IPFW. After flunking out of school (I stopped attending because - I don't know - I was bored, indifferent, caught up in teenage angst...)...I decided to go back and try to get serious.
One of the electives I signed up for was Introduction to Sociology. Yawn. Snoozer. I mean really - a frickin lecture class which was three hours in length on some weekday night (I'm thinking it was a Tuesday night).
I couldn't have been more wrong in my assessment of this class.
I had one of the best professors ever - Patrick Ashton. He made me think. He made me care. At whatever age I was 18-19? - I started thinking about things other than myself. Along with my classmates, we took a long, hard look at the world around us....our community...poverty....child abuse....other social injustices. And by golly - that professor guy, he lit a fire of passion in my belly. But not just mine - others were affected as well.
Just when I thought I was home free, he mentioned towards the end of the semester that the chancellor at that time (NOT Joanne Lantz) had not supported his application/petition - whatever it was - for tenure. Seems that that administrivia person thought that he spent too much time teaching and not enough time researching.
James Craig and I, who became friends because of this class, looked at each other. So did Ashton totally blow off his responsibility for research? We did our own research and the answer was NO. There was oodles. And oodles. Maybe he did 10 things and the norm was 12 but then he taught 2x the amount of classes (to underclassmen) as others up for tenure.
It just didn't seem fair.
And I was pissed.
So, naive as I was, I did something that literally changed the course of my life. James Craig and I stayed after class one night and put together a petition. We worked tirelessly for two weeks. There were at least 10,000 students at IPFW at that time and we were able to procure thousands of signatures. I can't remember how many off the top of my head but it was a HUGE number.
I know that we pretty much stunned the IPFW Administrivia team. We hand-delivered a copy of our petitions but then we took it a step further. We got in a car and drove to Bloomington to see President Tom Ehrlich.
He saw us too. We were give 15 minutes with him in which we explained what was going on, why we were very passionate about this professor and how we spent two weeks gathering the signatures of fellow students.
I don't know what happened after that - but the next thing I knew - that Chancellor was gone, Joanne Lantz was in place and Patrick Ashton was now a tenured associate? assistant? professor.
When I saw him (Professor Ashton) next semester, I wasn't thinking at all about what *I* did. I was beaming at him because he made a tremendous difference in my life. And what I did? Oh my - it was the very least I could do.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
St. Therese Catholic School
2222 Lower Huntington Road
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809
Photo Credit: KFH
Date Taken: May 23, 2008
As I've told you in earlier blog postings, I switched over to St. Therese Catholic School during the second semester of my fourth grade year. When I went for an extended visit back home in May, I made sure to stop by the place and soak up the memories. More on that later.
Because I know y'all love class photos - here's one to whet your appetite. I think I did pretty good remembering most people but of course, correct me if you know something that I've forgotten...
P.S. if you want to see the larger sized view - go here - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/2906218038_34f7c136a7_b.jpg
Row 1: Principal Sister ?, Miss (Christine) Majewski, Larry Cobb, Linda Tuttle, John Gannon, Debbie D?, Bobby Braun, Wendy Farmer
Row 2: Tom Mallot, Darlene Miller, Leo Cummings, Jeff Tourney, Terri Anderson, Gregg Jehl
Row 3: Nick ?, Alice Jordan, Phil Romary, Traci Olry, Jeremy Hensler, Dianne Miller, Doug Creech, Shannon Juza
Row 4: Kristina Frazier, Dorothy Bohn, Marlene Fremion, Tiena Spears, Mary Coffee, Marci Barnibee, Patty McClenahan
Saturday, September 20, 2008
East Berry at Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46801
Photo: Virgil V. Marquart
(Approximate date of postcard - 1950's)
There was a career path that existed in Fort Wayne in the 80's.
Let me rewind and tell you how it went.
During high school, if you wanted a part-time job, one of your options (if you were lucky) was to work at Scott's or Rogers.
If you worked at Scott's or Rogers in high school, you started out as a cashier and if you were extremely lucky (aka - you kissed enough butt and you were good at what you did) you might just MIGHT have the opportunity to work in the "office" area.
The office was actually the spot where you took care of customers - cashing their payroll check, dispensing stamps, taking their utility bill payments. You also checked cashiers in and out, offered feedback to the head cashier about the people on the floor, and generally, you got to wreak havoc with peoples schedules (if you so desired).
The only time one of those coveted spots ever opened up (and mind you - they were only part-time) was if someone left. And people didn't leave unless they climbed to the next level of their career - a job as a bank teller at Lincoln National, Fort Wayne National, or Anthony Wayne Bank.
If you thought it was difficult getting a position at Scott's or Rogers, the jobs at the banks were nearly impossible. Usually, you had to be good friends with someone who already worked there or your parents had to be good friends with someone who was "someone" at the bank.
In 1985, I decided to apply for an opening at Anthony Wayne Bank. How did I know about it? I read about it in the Journal Gazette. There was a very modest sized ad in the help wanted area. Anthony Wayne Bank was looking for experienced cashiers to fill a part-time role in their downtown branch.
Downtown was always neat - but scary to me. Crowded...difficult to find a parking spot. The important types worked downtown. I wasn't sure that I would fit in. I sent in a resume and within two weeks, I was called by Human Resources. Could I come downtown for an interview and to complete the "required testing". Of course I could! I made sure to have my resume printed out on the nice, heavy, lightly colored parchment-type paper (3 copies - just in case) and I made sure that I took the day off from work and school so that everything could be perfect for my trip downtown.
I know exactly what I was wearing for my interview. I had on a just-below-the-knee, navy blue skirt (because everybody knows - navy blue is the color to wear to interviews), a nicely pressed white blouse with a feminine collar (and it complemented my face), and the icing on the cake was my blue patterned bow which brought my whole look together.
Side note: those of you who weren't my age in this era - no fair if you laugh. Believe me, you'll look back at what you were wearing when you were 18-19 and you will wonder...what the?!?!
The testing was SO easy. Let's see, I had to show I could add and subtract and divide and multiply. Woo Hoo! I also had to complete an application (which was four pages long) and which seemed to ask for the exact same information that my resume provided.
Side Note: Anyone else ever annoyed at how redundant all HR processes are?!
After the testing, I was ushered into a "waiting" room and I sat there for a good 30 minutes. HR came out, called me into one of their nice, windowed offices and just like that - they went into their list of questions.
Of course I was very charming but business-like and I could tell that the HR chick thought I was all that and a bag of chips.
Hmmmm.....I bet I had that job in the bag....
But no - she called me early afternoon and asked if I would be interested in a full-time teller position at one of their Freedom Branches (aka banks located in department stores). I calmly, but excitedly said YES! And the next day, I put on a similar interview outfit and made my way out to the Parkwest Shopping Center. Inside Heck's Department Store, I met up with the manager of that branch - Gloria.
Gloria was blond, pencil thin, harsh-looking, smoked like a chimney, and had one of those raspy voices. She wasn't very personable. In fact, I didn't think our interview went well at all. She was very monotone and offered me no feedback as she went through her list of questions.
An hour later though, I was offered the position.
I nabbed my first, full-time job and it was at Anthony Wayne Bank. The hours were squirly. I worked 11 am - 7:30 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday; 2:30 pm -7:30 pm on Friday, and 8 am - 5 pm on Saturday. (Psssst....anything over 35 hours was considered "full time")
My starting salary was $16,100. I thought I was RICH.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Indian Village Elementary School
3835 Wenonah Lane
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809
May 23, 2008
Photo by KFH
When I went home in May, I was lucky enough to be treated to a tour of my grade school, Indian Village Elementary.
I don't care what anyone says. Every place has a certain smell and my elementary school is no exception. The moment, I stepped inside those doors, I was immediately flooded with memories.
Yep - one whiff - and there I was.
While I was receiving my tour, the 5th grade was "graduating" in the school's gymnasium which is why you will see the remenants of celebratory items in some of my pictures.
Take for example - this thing.
This is a thing of torture - brought to you by our famous gym teacher, Mr. Long. It was always - and I mean always - the thing we could never avoid - especially if we wanted that President's Physical Fitness Award.
Side note: I really wish I had a picture of Mr. Long. I'm not going to do justice in describing him.
He had jet black hair...whistle, always around his neck. He wore blue-ish polyester-ish pants that always came up pretty high on his waist. He wore a polo-like shirt and white gym shoes. I'm not sure where he is today - retired I hope!
Oh and by the way - every year, I was one of those kids who received a President's Physical Fitness Award. Every kid who scored enough points received a certificate and official recognition in the auditorium (aka the gymnasium, aka the cafeteria).
Girls, you remember those light blue striped jumpers that we had to wear? Gosh - wish I had a picture of that...
And then - I swear - these are the exact, same, floor mats that were used when I went to this school. They smell the same. And for the record, I did not purposely sniff the mats - they just emitted a scent of sweat - 30 + years of sweat.
These look like the mats that Mr. Long would put under the balance beam or the horse. sigh I feel old thinkin' about gym at Indian Village Elementary.
I learned how to play kick ball here, tumble down a row of mats, balance on the "beam", jump over the horse, scooter my way down to one end to pick up the bean bag squares (and back), how to play basketball, what relay races were, and best of all - I learned how to square dance here.
That's right - square dancing.
You all remember? It was one of the first times that we were paired up with someone of the opposite sex. And better yet - we had to hold hands with them! My typical partners were (because I was so tall) - Errol Stech, Rodney Ryder, and also Barry Bender (he was a grade ahead of me).
Saturday, September 6, 2008
So - Rogers Friendly Markets - 'memba them? Not sure which year this ad is from but almost everything on the page looks familiar.
The milk cartoon - the light blue and white stripes - almost like I can reach out and touch 'em.
Old South Orange Juice - they still make that stuff?
And what year did they drop the "Posh" from "Puffs"?
Friday, September 5, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Photo from ACPL CONTENTdm also found in the Journal Gazette, Sunday, April 15, 1973, Page 1A
I've shown you this map before. It's a map of my neighborhood and then some of the names of the families that lived in it during the time I was growing up there.
As I've mentioned in another blog entry, the kids in this neighborhood - well we spent the majority of our time outside. Nature was our playground. The ditches - the trees - the fields - and all other undiscovered territories were ours for the taking.
Something that may have been unique to our neighborhood - I'm not sure. Because each family had a ton of kids, the lines that separated who 'played' with whom was quite blurred. So in other words, I may have been in first grade, but it was socially acceptable for me to hang out with the fourth and fifth graders as long as I wasn't the only first grader in the bunch.
And that's because usually the fourth and fifth graders had younger brothers and sisters which they were obliged to entertain/keep an eye on so we were always in close proximity to one another during play time.
Another factor was that in the early 70's, we all went to the same school - Indian Village Elementary. For a period of time, it was K thru 6th grade, and we all rode the same school bus together.
In April 1973, we all had ants in our pants. We wanted Spring to arrive and the weather had been doing its usual Indiana thing. One day, it would be in the 30's and 40's, the next day it would hit the mid 60's. Once though it made it past 45 degrees, the kids in our neighborhood - well let's just say we were pretty famous for dumping our jackets and coats into a pile once out of the view of our parents. We didn't worry - they'd be in that stack before we returned home. Not like anyone was going to steal a jacket!
Friday, April 6 was a beaaaaaaaaaautiful day. I think it hit the mid 60's and when the bus let us off at our stop that afternoon, we were all about the weekend and playtime.
After walking through the door, kissing my mom hello and dropping off school related stuff, I immediately ran to the garage to pull out my light green, banana-seated bike with its tassels on the bars and the basket in the front. Where was I off to? I was meeting up with some of the kids at the corner of Cedar Crest and Pinecrest. We had some new, undiscovered territory to be charting.
There were mountains behind the houses on North Cedar Crest. Well, they looked like mountains to us. And not only were they great for climbing but they were also great for digging purposes. You could hide things in unusual places. You could even pretend to be an explorer, sandblasting a hidden cave, and finding a treasure that would make you really really rich. (Rich enough that you could buy Andy's gas station grocery store and you could eat all of the free candy you wanted.)
Delores Brouse who lived on Pinecrest was dubbed 'cool' for two reasons. First, she lived right next to one of the ditches and as I mentioned before - that automatically elevated your status in the neighborhood. Second, she was the resident expert about the mountains behind North Cedar Crest. Her dad worked for some construction place (later I found out it was Earth Construction and Engineering located on Engle Road) which was back in that same area, moving the piles of dirt around so that new buildings could be up.
So on that Friday, April 6, about a dozen of us kids set out to the "mountains". Our mission? It wasn't clear initially but within the first ten minutes of being up there, someone threw out the idea of building a 'fort'.
Forts are kind of a big deal to kids. We built them in our bedrooms with blankets and comforters hanging over chairs and tables...we used our toys to stack up walls of protection...I think you get the drift.
So on this fort thing - it wasn't an organized - everyone do a job and create one fort. We broke into smaller groups (without thinking about it), and we proceeded to do our own things. It was a ton of fun. The dirt that made up the mountains was pretty different from the dirt in our own backyard. In our backyard, dirt was pretty hard - and clay like. This dirt was more sandy but had enough strength that we could make it pack together.
When I went home that night, my dad was pissed at me. And he even yelled at my mom. I was dirty, but that wasn't the issue. He was angry that I was up in the "Sand Hill" area. He said it was too dangerous and I was not to go up there again. I even got the belt that night.
Some other kids must have gotten in trouble too because attendance (so I heard) at Saturday's festivities, dropped off. I remember riding my bike with Colleen Wooden, around the circle (i.e. Cedar Crest, Pine Crest, Cedar Crest) and wondering if there was any possible way we'd get in trouble if we just sat in the back yard of of one of the kids who had a house that butted up against the mountain area.
But, we were soon distracted and we ended up hanging out with the Beckstedt boys, playing in their ditch (they also owned prime real estate!).
And soon the whole mountain thing passed from my brain because one thing that I did not do was cross my father (on purpose).
A week later, on Saturday, April 14, there was a knock on our door. A policeman and two neighbors came into our house and I don't think that I've ever been so scared in my life. All I could think of was that I was under arrest (but for what - I wasn't sure). It was cartoon day - that really messes with your brain when someone like a policeman is standing in front of Scooby Doo.
They went in another room with my parents. I couldn't quite make out what was said. But then, I was called in.
insert dramatic music.
My mom, who looked as white as a ghost, called me over.
Kris. You aren't in any trouble. The police are going from house to house in the neighborhood to talk to the kids who played with Delores Brouse up on Sandhill over the past couple of weeks.
I think all of the blood drained out of my body.
They have some questions - can you just answer them. You aren't in trouble. It's important you tell them everything you know and don't worry about being in trouble with me and dad.
Well gee - I better not get in trouble because I had not been back to the mountains since the belt!
So the policeman asked me questions like - what did we do when we were up there? We were building forts. And did I know the location of the forts? Yes, they were up in the mountains. Sorry, I just thought that was funny...adults can be so confusing to kids. He specifically wanted to know - did I know which fort Delores had been working on and where it was located on the mountains?
I did and I drew them my own version of the map. Delores and her 'team' had the more elaborate fort. I think that is because they were "older" and had more experience at this fort building thing.
After my map, my dad and I and the policeman and one of the neighbor men, rode over to the moutain area. There were fire trucks and bulldozers and lots of other things that I'd never seen before. Neighbors, kids, policeman, fireman, other folks were there - tons of people.
It seems that we were all confirming (the kids involved), where the fort was. And why did anyone care? I guess that Delores was missing.
Missing? The first thing I said was, maybe she went home to go to the bathroom. That just tells you how naive I was.
My dad took me home and my Saturday went on, pretty much as normal but me and my sister were not allowed to go outside. My mother thought that it was too chaotic.
Later that day (around supper time), the Davis's (they lived next door to the Brouse's), came over and told us that Delores had been found. She was dead. She had been up on the mountains, playing with two other kids and because the dirt was so sandy, it had collapsed and she had fallen into an area that was hollowed out from fort building. Dirt covered her and she suffocated. She could not get out. They say she had tried, but she couldn't gain enough traction.
Delores Irene Brouse was 12 years old and in fifth grade at Indian Village Elementary School.
It was the first major death in my life that I ever had to deal with. For several nights, I would wake-up, trying to catch my breath because I was dreaming that I was suffocating.
When I went back to Fort Wayne in May, I went by the area - the first time ever - and thought back through the events of April 1973. The area is well developed with tons of roads and established businesses. It wasn't difficult though, for me to look down at the houses on North Cedar Crest and then to quickly visualize where our mountains were and where specifically the forts were built.
I was sad, of course, but then, I thought about how thankful I was that my dad did what he did. Not that I advocate the use of a belt :) but he got his point across to me. And literally, it probably saved my life.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
So when I was at the library last week, I was specifically looking for my birth announcement (cause you know - I wanted to make sure that it really happened like my parents said it did ;)).
As I flipped through reels and reels of microfilm, I stumbled upon this advertisement (October 1966) which just made me giggle.
Whomever wrote this - my hat is off to you. There's nothing like truth in advertising....
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Unfortunately, the next four years of my life were some of the worst I ever experienced. Or maybe I should say - the worst that those around me ever experienced.
I didn't know how to deal with the split up of my parents. I was the first born - the responsible one. But also the one who was to blame. Or so I was told (over and over again).
During 1982 and 1983, I attended five high schools. One of them twice. I was shipped from one parent to another - from one relative to another. No one knew what to do with me. I had closed up on the inside and I couldn't express what was going on internally. I was frozen from the inside out.
And then, one tragic, awful situation, unleashed the anger and sadness and betrayal that lived inside of me.
I didn't know the Osbornes. I don't even recall reading anything with Dan Osborne's name on it.
It was all over the news. The paper. The television. It was all anyone could talk about. Me, I didn't want to talk about it. I wanted people to stop talking about it. It was annoying. Wasn't there anything else to talk about?
And then one day, I saw a picture of her - Caroline Osborne - only for a few seconds. The news articles - the television reports - all of the details came flooding at me at once.
Caroline was 2.
Caroline was sexually assaulted.
Caroline was meant to die.
Caroline wandered around her home for two days - seeing her dead family and not understanding.
And after not being able to display emotions for what seemed like years, I broke down. I don't mean cried - I mean for four hours, my body shook and trembled like never before (and as I type this, the memories are right there - so close to the surface).
I was so angry.
At God. I hated him with every bit of life inside of me. He was cruel and mean and I would never forgive him for all of this bad stuff - my parents, me, Caroline Osborne, her family. He was no God of mine. I had been a hypocrite for so many years. Just pray. Just believe. Yeah. Right. And watch the evil world win because that's how it works. You get to be dumb and stupid and a believer while everyone else is winning.
At my mom. She ran away - she didn't defend us. She didn't protect me. She lied to me. Many times. I trusted her. She hijacked my trust and left me feeling like I had no one.
At my dad. He couldn't keep it together. He had to blame a 12 year old kid for his failures. He couldn't control his anger. He was a coward. He abandoned his family.
At my friends. They didn't understand me. They didn't want to see me for me - they only wanted to see me for what I had been before. Smart. Strong. The leader.
I needed someone. I had no one. In many ways, I felt like little Caroline Osborne...wandering around, battered, bruised, confused, but too naive to understand how the situation came to be. And all I wanted was for everything to be the way it was before it got all messed up. I wanted my life back. I wanted my family back. I wanted my neighborhood back. I wanted my friends back. I wanted some semblence of normalacy and happiness back.
Only, it was never going to happen. Nothing was reversible. I was 16 - and the world sucked in a way that made me not want to live. The pain just seemed to be endless. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it another day.