Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be a Reader or a Sponsor for the 2nd Annual Indy Reads 30 Hour "Read-a-Thon"

Good Morning!

One of the questions I received early on (via email) was, you seem to be pretty attached to the community in Fort that you are in the Indianapolis area, why aren't you "attached" to your current community?

Well, as a matter of fact, I AM attached to the community here - it's just an attachment that is different and holds a meaning separate and apart from Fort Wayne. I'm hoping this post sheds some light on my involvement and love for the Central Indiana area.

As you can probably guess from reading my blog, I am passionate about the power (and importance) of education. It's been one of the biggest facilitators of positive energy in my life and I would not be who I am today without it.

There is an organization in Indianapolis - Indy Reads. They are embarking on their 2nd Annual Indy Reads 30 Hour "Read A Thon".

You can donate through this link.

You can also make the gift in honor of someone. I chose to do it in honor of my teachers at Indian Village Elementary School and the acknolwedgement will be sent to the current principal, who I hope will share with the current teachers of the school. I want them to know (in case they ever forget) that even decades later, teachers like them absolutely made (and make) a difference in the lives of children.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

How Tetherball Changed My Life

Originally uploaded by kristinafh

I bow before you oh tetherball inventor!

Who would have known that a ball (which seemed to be a cross between soccer and kick), attached to the rope of death, secured to a metal pole from hell....would have provided two little girls (and their friends) hours and days and years worth of fun?

I'm getting ahead myself. Let's start at...the beginning.

In the beginning, there was Indian Village Elementary School and four playmates - Beth Fruechtenicht, Melanie Davis, Erika Couch, and ME. When we were allowed on to the "big kids" playground, a whole new world was opened up to us.

That world included black asphalt (which doubled for a kick-ball court), a four-square court, and best of all - a tetherball court.

The tetherball court at Indian Village looked kind of like the picture I have attached. P.S. I couldn't find any "decent" photos of tetherball courts - at least those that were applicable to me and my childhood, so that's how I ended up with this picture. So if you have any decent ones - let me know and I'll add them here.

The difference was that the rope had a chain at the very top and the court itself was encircled by a white paint line. But just one. Not multiple. That circle was important - step outside of it when you were making your KILLER move and buddy - you committed an unspeakable act!

The kids in our class used to queue up around the court (at recess) to wait their turn in line to beat whoever was the reigning champion at the time. Beth and I were pretty darned good. Erika was too. On the boys side, Brian Rice and Tom Stinson (my second big crush of grade school), could hold their own. The girls though - we always seemed to kick their butts.

Here's something important to know. Standing in line was never boring. Oh no. This was the time that we would get caught up on "things". For instance? Beth would tell us about what happened the night before on Little House on the Prarie. My dad was into watching things like Sanford and Son so it was crucial for me to get these kinds of updates or else I would be behind the "girl" curve.

This was also the time that we would guess who liked who. Most of this information was based upon who sat with who on the bus.

Side note: NEVER underestimate the important of bus rides. You learn LOTS.

SO - tetherball at school was fun but it was more fun when the sport made it to my own backyard.

For a birthday or Christmas or you know - some gift giving holiday, my sister and I received our own tetherball contraption. It looked like the one in this picture (all rope, ball, and metal), but of course, it was in our backyard and there was NO cement involved.

I don't remember who actually put it in for us (my mom or my dad), but I do know that my sister and I were plenty obsessed with how we were going to be able to ensure "fairness" with any play that would occur.

First thing up, we needed to create our own "white paint circle" but without the white paint.

After playing a couple of tetherball games, I figured out how we could get ourselves a decent, looking circle going on.

If we took the hose, and turned it on, the water made it much easier to loosen the grass.

And when you added bare feet to the equation, along with lots of willing friends who thought playing tetherball in a slip-n-slide environment was really neat, well - our homemade court came just that much faster.

Side note: I wasn’t even grossed out by the worms that got between my toes. But see my sister and I used to have to pull weeds a lot in our garden so worms were like an annoying distraction to us.

Okay - so when the neighborhood kids found out that we had a tetherball, and somehow, there was a water hose involved, suddenly, half of them were in our backyard - all volunteering to "help" the cause.

Joe and Phil Beckstedt, Tricia Manter, Colleen Wooden, Denita Davis, Jackie Boice, Mark and Kevin Grimes. And then - my little sister's love-sick boyfriend (she was seven, he was seven) - Kenny Stech.

That Saturday was quite an eventful day. Not only did we solve our issue, but it was the event of my first kiss.

Well kiss, in the way of peck-on-the-lip(s).

After kicking his butt in tetherball, Philip Beckstedt grabbed my hand and took me around the corner to the back of our one car garage. That's where he planted one on me.

I thought he was WAY cute - he had that killer smile and great hands (yes, even when he was ten years old - loved his hands).

Eight years old. My first kiss from Philip Beckstedt. But not my last. More coming on that much later...

So tetherball - not just a sport. But a faciliator of creativity and other sports.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Postcard of Dancing Pavilion Robison Park, Fort Wayne, Ind.

I started collecting postcards of Fort Wayne about 4-5 years ago. I don't know what prompted me to start however, it has turned into a full-blown obsession of mine.

A couple of Christmas's ago, I gave my aunts, grandmother, and mom, their own, framed set of Fort Wayne postcards. They were all pleasantly surprised as each of their sets contained very specific postcards of places that they had mentioned to me before - in fact - many years before. In some cases, the postcards were of buildings and recreational spots that no longer existed.

If you ever want to get a good story out of your relatives - bring up a place that no longer exists! That's a history lesson that you can't get from a book.

Such was the case with the Robison/Robinson Park series. This first postcard, "Dancing Pavilion Robison Park," had me perplexed.

When I attended IPFW, I lived on the north side of Fort Wayne - living at apartments that were near Shoaff Park, so I was pretty familiar with the parks on the north side.

But I never heard of Robison Park.

All I had to do was ask.

And guess what I found out?!

Well, before I can tell you about the park, I have to tell you – I think I won some sort of lottery. You see, this is how I found out the following (and this all pertains to my mother’s side of the family).

BOTH of my great-grandfathers were married to someone else BEFORE they married my great-grandmothers.

How did I get through decades of life without anyone telling me this?!

And – back in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s – how often do you think that happens?! I just think that it couldn’t have happened often (that people were on their second marriage) so this is why I realized that I must have hit the come-hell-or-high-water-you-will-be-born-lottery.

Now back to this park.

It turns out - that this park - which no longer existed - was quite "the place" to hang out in the late 1800's, early 1900's.

Here’s a description of it from Volume 1 of the History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana.

Fort Wayne Consolidated Railway Company purchased a tract of land in St. Joseph township which drew 35,000 visitors on its opening day, July 4, 1896. Known initially as Swift Park, it was later renamed Robison Park and became a popular recreational spot for Fort Wayne residents for the remainder of the decade.

Visitors were treated to music played on orchestrion, located in the park's ballroom, observed hot-air balloon launches and a variety of traveling acts, played baseball, and ate picnic lunches. Rides such as the Dentzel carousel were added to the park at a later date.

In 1897, the Projectorscope, one of Thomas Edison's devices that showed pictures that moved, became a part of the park's summer theater season.

It just so happens that my great-grandparents - Walter G. Roy and Helena Starost - became acquainted with one another at Robison Park. They were both fond of dancing, picnics, and baseball games.

And all of this history was facilitated through the visual of a postcard. Imagine that! Pictures do speak thousands of words.

Side note: Walter was previously married to Rosina Breer and according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (August 7, 1920 - reporting on her death), "To many she will be remembered as someone who for the past three seasons made many balloon ascensions at Robison park."

That means that this park really was special to my great-grandfather and that were it not for its existence - perhaps I wouldn't be here today.

Hummmmmmmmmph. Sort of puts things in perspective. And it makes me love and appreciate special spots like this all the more.

P.S. A few years ago, I found a web site that had documented what had happened to Robison Park. It was quite devastating for me to see. But then, I'm a sucker for a good romance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

When I was a little kid, I made myself a notebook out of scrap paper (mostly from "junk" mail). One section of my notebook was about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Funny thing - no one ever asked me. I just decided it was important to write it down. Bullet points...well really they were stars. Side note: I think this explains a lot about my personality - I'm a dreamer...

Like all kids (and gee - even adults), I went through various phases and what I wanted to be when I grew up - well - it always changed.

With the exception of one thing.

I always wanted to be Miss America.

Miss America Logo

Yes, stop laughing. I know - Miss America. Who would have ever thought?

And mind you - not Miss USA, not Miss Universe, not Miss World, NO - it was only - ONLY Miss America.

So who is to blame for this? Well no one other than Kellogg's.

Here's the story. I was always a Barbie fan. I like cereal too.

One day, while at Maloley's, I begged my mother to buy Kellogg's Cornflakes.

She didn't. She wouldn't. It wasn't on sale. There was a cheaper brand. Something along those lines.

She was also probably suspicious because I usually used my bargaining chips for Sugar Smacks. But not this time.

So, what's a girl to do?

Tell Grandma of course. And the great thing about my Grandma (this is my mom's mom) is that I never had to pretend why I wanted something.

The conversation probably went something like this.

Grandma, I was at the store with mommy and I wanted her to buy me this cereal with the rooster on it cause you can send in for a Barbie. And Grandma, it's a Miss America Barbie and she has brown hair and you know they never have any barbie's with brown hair.

That's all I needed to say. She went to the A & P, probably forced my Grandpa to eat cornflakes every day for a week, and she sent away for my Miss America Doll.

It was a whole $3.00. In 1972, that would have bought 12 loaves of Maloley's Bread (4/$1.00). Still, nothing was too much for Grandma's first grandchild. Insert bat of eyelashes here.

Side Conversation: You'll notice here that I have two different back sides of Kellogg's Cornflakes boxes shown. Here's the thing - I don't remember which one was the one that I ordered. If you look closely, the first one features Miss America 1972 - Laurel Lea Schaefer. The second box looks to have the same exact doll however, it's being pimped out by Miss America 1973 - Terry Anne Meeuwsen.

I think both dolls were referred to as, "Miss America Walk Lively" although they both have different release numbers to them (but let's not get TOO technical - after all - what the heck does a 6/7 year old know about these things....NOTHING).

When my Miss America Doll arrived, it came in a brown, plain package, addressed to "Miss Kristina Michele Frazier" (my Grandmother has always taken credit for naming me - but more on this later). I remember tearing open the package and laying my eyes on the most exquisite, plastic, brunette chick, (in doll form), that I had ever seen.

She had brown hair that curled at the ends. The secret to the curl was that Miss America had hair made out of some kind of wiry crap. I didn't question it. It was just cool to use the pink comb they enclosed which allowed me to "re-curl" it whenever my heart so desired.

Atop her head was a silver, fabric/cloth-like crown - it was sown to her hair BUT - all of us talented Barbie owners could remove the crown via scissors without damaging her hair.

The issue here was that you could never get the crown to stay on quite right again. My sister did manage to show me how I could jimmie a bobby-pin in but hey - did you ever see the real Miss America walk down the aisle with a great big-ole bobby-pin sticking out the side of her head like a Steve Martin arrow?

Right. No. Okay - well, I forgave her for having blue eyes and I was quite pleased by her long, black eyelashes.

The very best part of the Miss America Doll was her gown. It was made out of a gold lame evening top which gave way to a white, flowing full, taffeta skirt. Her sash, gold scepter, red cape (with faux fur), bouquet of red roses, and white heeled shoes made me really want to be Miss America even MORE.

But for the record - no - I was never Miss America, nor did I ever participate in a pageant effort that would have led to Miss America-ness.

So here's Miss America 1972 - and a close-up of the Miss America Doll (oh what the heck - here's Miss America 1973 also). I believe that it was originally modeled after her and when Miss America 1973 came along, and had (more or less) the same physical attributes, Kellogg's and Mattel said - hey! let's squeeze more money out of the families of little girls! :)

Miss America 1972Walk-Lively Miss America Doll

Over time, I made sure to ask for OTHER Miss America items.

The bike was a NO. I guess having more than one banana-seated bike in the house was overkill.

The Colorforms Doll and Miss America Board Game passed the "Santa" test.

My very favorite Miss America item - after the Barbie - was the lunch box. One side showed her getting crowned, and the other was an up-close, shot of the chick I wanted to be.

As a closing treat, I'm including a "classic" moment from the 1976 Miss America pageant. It STILL cracks me up.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Are You A Fish Or Are You A Clown?

Indian Village Elementary School
3835 Wenonah Lane
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46809
(260) 467-5200

Photo Credit: Indian Village Elementary School Website

I have lots to say about two particular things that I must only hint on briefly here - Kindergarten and My Parents and their educational background. Both, I think, are points of reference which I need to tell you about so that you can better understand today's entry. So let me give you hints of them and then I'll move into today's entry - which is about - First Grade, Room 19, Mrs. Marsha Lawson - and of course - Indian Village Elementary School.

Kindergarten (the year before - with Miss Crouse in Room 1) - was just 1/2 of a day (and it was the afternoon session for me). While I have lots of stories to tell about this year, one thing that stands out to me is that I never considered it a year of academics. It seemed like much of the focus was on how to co-exist with other kids and how to participate in group activities. It also served to familiarize you with the bus system, how to get around the building, and most importantly, it put you on somewhat of a schedule :).

My parents and education....First of all, at this point in time of my life, neither of my parents had graduated from high school. My father went up through eighth grade and my mother dropped out at the end of her sophomore year to have me.

When I went into Kindergarten, I didn't know how to read. I'm not sure I knew how to write. I could probably count (shrugs). My parents did recognize that education was important however, they really looked to the teachers of the school system to provide the guidance. I'm sure that had a lot to do with their lack of education.

SO - two very important data points for you to understand for today's entry.

In first grade, I didn't know what to expect and frankly, I wasn't thinking really hard about "expectations" around education. We were a pretty poor, but proud family. Although we could have qualified for free and/or reduced lunches (and of course - that dreaded "welfare" term), my parents would have nothing of that.

SO - what was I thinking about if I wasn't focused on my education? I loved me some Barbies! I had Barbies but not any of that fancy furniture (too expensive) I usually thought about what kind of things I could use from around the house that could double for my Barbie furniture/Barbie house. I'm telling you - that's mental labor intensive! :)

Mrs. Lawson was a very nice first grade teacher. She was subtle in how she tested us to see where our skills were. I don't remember any paper/pencil exercises to determine this. I think that it was some one on one sessions with her and maybe one other staff/teacher type.

After she had determined where our as-is reading and language skills were, she placed us into small groups. Each group had a name. I think that there were four groups however, the only two group names I can remember today is the Fish group and the Clown group.


Now, I assumed she put us in those groups so that she could work closely with us at the appropriate level we were all at. Now go figure. How smart of her!

I was assigned to the Fish group. At the time, I loved tuna fish so I was kind of excited about being in a group with a food attached to it that I like (for more on my food issues - see Mr. Yuk!).

I don't know how it happened but after about a week, it dawned on me that I was in the retarded group. Side note to readers - I know you know I don't literally mean that. When you are seven years old (during that period in the 70's), you knew why Reading Readiness existed and why some of your classmates didn't transition from Kindergarten to First Grade.

So, I was a little miffed that I was in the retard/slow/stupid group. The Fish Group. So ticked off I was, that I took a moment to figure out what group I should REALLY be in and over the next 3-4 weeks, I worked my way out of the Fish Group and into the Clown Group.


First Grade Readers - Publisher - Houghton Mifflin

How'd I do that?

I recognized that reading and spelling and general processing of my thoughts, was all about patterns. Okay, but know this. In first grade, I didn't KNOW that. Mrs. Lawson used something they call - oh PHONICS. And phonics for me, was about pattern, repetition, logic. I could translate the flashcards she would use, into sounds and I would practice those over and over again - not even aloud, but in my head. It wasn't memorizing - it was the marriage of sight, with hearing, and thought processing.

Like I said - Mrs. Lawson was great - she did a lot of head fakes with us :)

Mrs. Lawson was impressed when I took such a short time to work my way out of the Fish Group and into the Clown Group. Dr. Schroeder (principal with the bald head, fuzzy side burns - he kinda looked clownish...and he was always twisting a pinkie ring) wasn't sure what to make of me. But then, I really showed them - nobody puts baby into a corner (dang - I really wish I had coined that term because really - as a seven year old - that's what being in the Fish Group felt like).

I quickly surpassed the Clown Group. Mrs. Lawson was at a loss. She consulted with Mrs. Lyons (the other first grade teacher). They both thought it was a good idea to get me started with the next level up reader.

By the end of the first grade, I had whizzed through the required reading books for Grade 2, Grade 3, and Grade 4. And yes, the associated workbooks, vocabulary, and testing.

How things have changed or NOT - My parents didn't help me (or not - they were just busy with other stuff). I didn't have any fancy tutors. Every day after school, as a latchkey kid, I had CHORES and other responsibilities. We didn't even have homework in first grade. There were around 30 kids in my class too (see class picture). My point? Just another data reference for you - hopefully it gets people thinking about why kids now (who are just like I was) - aren't succeeding like I did. I don't think for a moment that I was the most unique kid in the world.

But anyway....

These books my friends, represent a very important and pivotal time in my life.

If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities," Maya Angelou

I had a fantasy of getting the heck out of the Fish Group. And by doing that - I unknowingly, laid the foundational building blocks that would benefit me a million fold for the rest of my life. Having this foundation allowed me to survive my parents divorce and my movement to at least ten additional schools. Without the foundation that Mrs. Lawson helped me realize, I would have been one of those statistics that none of us would be proud to be.

I'm slowly, but surely, locating these books either through eBay or through Amazon Marketplace. I'm convinced I'm missing ONE book from the First Grade series (so if you know what that is, please let me know).

Side note: I can't remember which of these are associated to which grade, so if you remember - let me know!!!

RainbowsSecretsPanoramaKaleidoscope WorkbookFiesta Workbook

By the way, all of these awesome books were authored by the legendary professor from Michigan State University - William K. Durr. He's retired now however, I've decided that I'm going to take my Dinosaurs book and I'm going to mail it to him to see if he'll autograph it for me.

Fer real!

Pausing For A Station-Identification Moment

So, I was just mentioning to someone, that I bet, if you took an inventory of the adults who went through the Fort Wayne Community School system during the 70's and 80's, you would most likely find that there were a number of them (maybe even highly disporportionately in a positive sense) who would be considered very successful professionals. HECK! Just from you all who have reached out to me, I'm in awe of what you guys are accomplishing as professionals. It's just too bad that not all of you were able to stay in the Fort. But we'll save that "lack of job opportunities" for another day ;).

ANYWAY - in two weeks, I'll be in San Francisco, California, speaking on something that me and my awesomely, wonderful team have been working on for the past year.

If any of you past Fort Wayne'ers are San Francisco'ians now, let me know and maybe we can meet up!

Delivering Targeted Web Experiences at Cummins

Speakers: Kristina Frazier-Henry, IT Marketing and Customer Engineering Director, Cummins and Eben Miller, Director, Product Marketing, Interwoven and Garner Andrews, Strategic Solutions Architect, Interwoven

Companies today confront a dramatically changing landscape, which has resulted in urgent and complex challenges. For most of us, the explosion in social computing, fragmenting market conditions, new competitive pressures, and the increasing sophistication of online users is forcing us to deliver more relevant, interactive, and engaging online experiences. By taking a systematic approach to targeting Web content and offers, businesses can grow revenue and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. In this session, you will learn how Cummins, a global power leader, is transforming their online strategy and driving growth through the effective deployment of targeted Web experiences to key customer and partner segments.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great Confusion and Sadness

I'm going to take a moment out of my usual type of "reflection on childhood" posting and tell you that I was shocked, mortified, and just generally stunned at what has become of the Fort Wayne Community School System.

I know that over the past 20 years, enrollment has tanked and I just assumed that it was that normal - people moving out to the 'burbs.

Then I see this data and I was speechless for a good five minutes.

Public School Rankings

I'm embarrassed.

There would be absolutely no way that I would enroll my son in the FWCS system as it is today.


This makes me incredibly sad. I went to Indian Village. It's on probation. Unfathomable.

And here's the Private School Rankings.

When my mother decided to switch us into the catholic school system, I went to St. Therese. BTW - she did this to ease her catholic mind not because she didn't think we were getting great educations in the FWCS system.

So St. Therese - it's listed as exemplary.

Another observation.

All of the public schools in the Waynedale area are doing horribly while the handful of private schools in the same area are shining brightly.


What has happened folks? How and why did FWCS become so broken?

I feel badly for these children. What kind of future can they expect to have if they attend a school that is sub-par?

And Fort Wayne - how can they expect to turn out "their own" professionals if these kids can't even cut the state's mustard.

No wonder these kids are resorting to shooting each other. Nine murders in one week - how many of those who perpetrated the crimes - how many of those people were a product of the FWCS system?

I'm just sayin'....


I'm back to being speechless again.

But then I bounce back and start reading the meeting minutes - just for 2008 mind you as I'm pretty tired and I need to sleep soon.

"Carol J. Coen commented on the district wide fund raiser that FWCS is holding for Riley
Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Many Fort Wayne children use the facility in Indianapolis. If we collect one dollar per student, the district would become a Riley Miracle Corporation

I mean no disrespect to Ms. Coen - but who cares? I mean, it's nice that there is a fund raiser to support Riley but caring about the district becoming a "Riley Miracle Corporation"? Is this part of the new image that they're trying to build for themselves?

"Kevin Brown, Carol J. Coen and Stephen Corona shared experiences from their trip to
Washington, D.C. for the National School Boards Association, Federal Relations Network Conference in early February. There was much conversation about the reauthorization of NCLB legislation. They were able to visit with the staff of Senators’ Lugar and Souder and share specifics of Fort Wayne Community Schools concerns

I'm glad that they went on a field trip - but WHAT are the concerns? I don't find any list on FWCS website entitled, "Concerns We Have". I would love to see that!

What does it say when four months into the year - over 50% of the meeting minutes documentation is taken up with hires/fires/transfers/leaves of absences/retirements??? Why SO much fluctuation in personnel??

"Mark GiaQuinta thanked the Superintendent for the congratulatory letter sent to Bishop Luers on their state football championship."

You've got to be kidding.

"Chief Academic Officer Dr. Carol Lindquist provided an overview of the district process for enhancing academic effectiveness. Director of School Improvement Systems John Kline then reviewed steps taken by each school to create its plan for continuous improvement."

Awesome. How about posting them on the FWCS website and updating this information (the progress of) monthly?

Yes, here's the methodology they are using (which to me, seems a BIT overwhelming and which will do a great job of taking teachers away from doing their job but hey - what do I know - I just have a master's degree).

They were supposed to be done by March 28, 2008 (each school yet nothing has been posted on the FWCS website). They do have "generic" plans for Middle School - so maybe this means that one size fits all, and whether you are an exemplary school or a probationary school, your approach to improvement is still the same.


Something happened between the 2003-2004 school year and the 2004-2005 school year. A quick check of each school's snapshots comparing those two sets of year - half of FWCS dropped significantly from one year to the next (some by 20 points!!!) . Maybe someone can explain that to me.

Waynedale Elementary
Indian Village Elementary
Weisser Park Elementary
South Wayne Elementary
Frances Price Elementary
Nebraska Elementary (they tanked big time first, from 2002-2003 vs. 2003-2004 but then took another nose dive from 2003-2004 to 2004-2005)
Lindley Elementary
Lincoln Elementary
Merle J Abbett Elementary
Adams Elementary
Elmhurst High
Fairfield Elementary
Forest Park Elementary
Franke Park Elementary
Haley Elementary
Harris Elementary
Harrison Hill Elementary


I promise tomorrow's blog entry will be light and fluffy because too many of these depressing postings aren't good for any of us :).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Braceface! Metal Mouth! Railroad Tracks!

Dear Kids of the 21st Century,

You have absolutely no idea how lucky you have it. This is the part where I would normally dust off one of my own parent's stories (i.e. we had to walk five miles to school in the snow or we were only able to afford bread, milk, and sugar for breakfast, or some variation on that theme).

Instead, I'm going to tell you what it was like - to have braces back in the late 70's. Yeah - let me put it this way. There was no Invisalign crap. Also, in the late 70's many insurances didn't even cover braces. If your parents weren't covered under one of those thank-your-lucky-stars-policies (cough Lincoln Life cough), you might have gone through your adolescence with wildly, malformed teeth. How 'bout dem apples?!

Now on to the story.

Once upon a time, in a not-so-distant-land, there lived this little girl who was quite adorable in a non-glamorous way.

Kris - Age 8

Then one day, almost over night, she started losing her baby teeth and when her permanent teeth grew in their place, they grew back in a way which made her look not so adorable anymore. In fact, she looked quite ghastly and was often referred to as having "buck teeth" by her school mates.

4th Grade Class Photo5th Grade Picture6th Grade Class Photo
Kris - 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

Her mother took her to the local orthodontist and he confirmed the worst possible scenario.

Dr Ingleman


Side note: By the way - can you believe that Dr. Ingleman is still in practice?! Sheesh, the man must have been 21 when he was workin' on my mouth ;).

She went through a series of x-rays and molds.

Note: Dr. Ingleman was the very first dental-type that I know of that gave you some sort of option for what "flavor" you wanted in the plaster of paris crap that had to stay in your mouth for hours (well not really hours - but it seemed that way sometimes). I liked cherry the best. The mint sucked.

But before she could get braces on, the x-rays and molds confirmed that another step would need to happen first.

Before those lovely railroad tracks could be laid, two teeth needed to be pulled from her mouth - specifically the two top incisors.

Because her mouth wasn't large enough to hold all of her teeth.

And this people - was without - my wisdom teeth!!! Yes, I know - shocking. Even my husband expresses disbelief when I repeat this story (the point here is that I have a "big mouth" - hah!).

After the girl, who resembled a horse (see six grade picture above), had her two teeth pulled, she was scheduled for the day of death (i.e. the laying of the metal).

True confession: the staff gave the girl a pill to take the morning of the procedure. It was supposed to dry out her mouth so that she wouldn't slobber all over them.

It was just a teeny tiny white pill. She tried to take it. REALLY. She just couldn't. She had some phobia about swallowing pills.

Dr. Ingleman's Office Tillman Road

At the orthodontist's office, her mouth wasn't dried out. At all. One of the chicks asked her if she had taken "the pill".

SHE LIED! Said she did. She didn't want to get in trouble. She was pretty convincing. They believed her and proceeded with the adhesing of brackets to her teeth - meanwhile - she was slobbering buckets and buckets of goo.

Enough of my third person story.

Getting brackets put on your teeth - well - if you've never experienced it - it's like having hunks of crap put into your mouth. And your lips feel like they get bigger because they have to wrap around and over metal brackets or else the whole world sees metal.

The most painful part of the "get your brackets on day" was the molar-area. I'm a sensitive chick and I hate crap being put onto my molars. I can still hear the crunch crunch crunch noise that occurred when they were trying to slide (hah!) them on.

So after mounting those brackets, they sent me home with pain relief in the form of this crap -

Wax for Braces

The idea here is that you pinched off a hunk of wax and molded it however you wanted to, and then put in on your bracket. You would most likely do this if one of those ugly, nasty, metal hokey-pokey's were tearin' holes into your mouth innards.

After a couple of weeks, I had the lovely experience of going back to get the wires put in.

7th Grade Picture8th Grade Class Picture
Kris - 7th Grade, 8th Grade (with braces)

That, my friends, is the real beginning of a pain you never forget. Screw childbirth - at least for childbirth, there's drugs!

See this? Tool

This is an orthodontist's King of Pain. Yes, it's the tool that slices/dices/cuts/straightens/tightens everything and anything.

If I ever thought about going into a trade that involved working with my hands and tools, this was the moment that I was turned off.

But the pain (and humiliation) didn't stop there for me. First, I was given the "KING" of all head gears. It was the kind that looked like you had a cap on your head - not the cool thing that sat at the back of your neck.

Head Gear
not Kristina's mouth

Forget about getting a goodnight's sleep because this doo-hickey (it slipped into your mouth and hooked into the upper, side brackets) made it difficult to sleep anywhere but on your back. At the time, I was a stomach sleeper - but after that - no more. And the side? Oh no. To sleep on the side, you would risk bending this metal mouth piece. And that meant that your parents had to spend more money. And when you had parents like mine, you just didn't risk it.


Oh yes - let's not forget these puppies. "Allegedly", they were supposed to help me in some way. What way? Couldn't tell you. I think that I consciously blocked out that memory :).

Rubber Bands

After decades (okay - not that long) of having these puppies on, they finally came off and unlike other kids, I didn't automatically get that beautiful, flesh-toned retainer.


Oh no. I was subjected to something like this - only mine was clay colored and was "flavored" with a strong cinnamon taste (which the thought - still gags me today).

not Kristina's mouth

Eventually, I did get to move to the retainer and throughout my life, I only manage to lose it once. I stopped wearing the thing in my mid-20's. I have no clue why I even wore it that long - maybe I was too afraid of having to have braces again...

So I look back at this period of time in my life and I can't believe how ghastly I looked. I'm glad that at the time - I wasn't cognizant of my appearance. That probably had a lot to do with my parents. Fourth grade was the start of their marriage unravelling in a big way. I don't think that they realized it - but I certainly saw all of the signs.

So smart at ten/eleven. Go figure :).

Randy Pausch - "The Last Lecture"

If you haven't seen this, do so and SOON.

Also, tonight on ABC (10 p.m. est), Diane Sawyer will be interviewing Randy Pausch.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

4th Grade, Indian Village Elementary - Mrs. Crowley

I told you earlier that 4th grade was an important time for me. Here is the first of many recollections re: that period of time in my life.

In 1976, I was nine years old and entering the fourth grade. I had attended Indian Village Elementary school since kindergarten and had felt pretty comfortable in my surroundings, although - and I know you'll find this hard to believe - I was an extremely introverted child. I had fantastic teachers for K-3rd and for fourth grade, I was looking forward to having Mrs. Mitchell. She was an older woman who ran a very strict classroom setting but I heard, she was the best.

Imagine my surprise when two days before school, we stopped by to pick up my books, and found out that my teacher wouldn't be Mrs. Mitchell. It was to be a new teacher, Mrs. Crowley. I was shaken up a bit but forgot about it quickly as I wanted to enjoy my last two days of freedom.

But so much for peace and quiet because rumor around the neighborhood was that Mrs. Crowley was black. This upset my parents - mostly my father - tremendously. Although I knew my father said horrible things about black people, I thought for some reason that a teacher would be exempt from his wrath. But no. The 'n' word was used like it was a typical part of everyday conversation. By the time school started, my stomach had a great ole pit in it.

On our first day of school, my sister and I caught the school bus and sat for the requisite 20 minute ride. When we arrived, there was a school bus already there, sitting directly in front of the school with curtains hanging in the window. How odd I thought. Why doesn't my school bus get to have curtains? The whispers inside the school halls was that a handful of black children had been bussed in to our school system. I was really confused. All of this chaos was a lot for me to handle on my very first day of school.

I walked down the hall to room 21 and stepped into the newly decorated classroom. I found my desk, took a seat, and then looked around to see if I recognized any of my classmates (hi Beth! hi Tom!). But then all of that became a moot point when I saw my teacher walk in the room.

Mrs. Crowley was an attractive woman with a hair-do that was pretty common for a white woman in 1976. I call it the Miss America hair-do. Her skin was black - and not light-skinned but dark black and that frightened me. Didn't it hurt to have skin that dark? I knew that when I stayed out in the sun and my skin got burnt, it really hurt! I was worried for her. Throughout the day, it was very difficult to concentrate because I kept on looking at Mrs. Crowley, trying to understand her. She looked so different but sounded so much like my other teachers.

Over the next couple of weeks, I still found myself stealing glances at Mrs. Crowley and once in awhile, she would catch my stare and smile back at me. About two months into school, I was picked to work on a special project which required that I stay after school. When I went back to pick up my homework, Mrs. Crowley was still there, cleaning up, and setting up for tomorrow's class. For the first time, I was face to face with the teacher that I was both fascinated with and scared of. We were alone and I could tell she was going to initiate conversation. It was a very casual conversation - she asked about my project I was a part of and I commented on how late she was staying. Whew! I had escaped.

Meanwhile, back at home, my dad still had not let up on the "n" word. Every day he still made it quite clear to me and my sister that our education was in jeopardy because the school system had hired "her". The hateful messages I received from home were so confusing because my gut totally felt the opposite. I was learning so much from Mrs. Crowley. She was a fantastic teacher. It got to a point that I needed to know, once and for all, what the real story was.

One day, I volunteered to stay after school to re-arrange the desks. I did it on purpose and I even lied to my parents about it. They thought that I went to my best friend, Beth's house (and to this day, Beth has kept my secret). When Mrs. Crowley and I were alone, she asked me some questions.

Kris, I see you staring at me throughout our day and I was wondering if there's something you want to say to me.

She said this all with a smile. For the first time, there was no fear in my body.

Mrs. Crowley. Does it hurt to be black?

She looked at me and crooked her head, looking for more information.

How do you mean, Kris?

I told her that her black skin seemed so dark and that it reminded me of someone who had been burnt. Did it hurt her? She smiled from ear to ear and gently touched my shoulder.

Sit down with me.

She then talked to me about everything. We started with skin color and she continued answering any and all questions I threw at her.

Why do people call black people the "n" word?
Why does my daddy hate "n" people?
How come my school bus doesn't have curtains?

I touched her hands. They were smooth and soft. Her nails were painted a dark color - maybe a brown. They were perfectly manicured. I touched her hair. It felt so much different from mine. It was straight like mine but it didn't feel nearly as soft as mine. I hugged her and it felt so nice. And she smelled incredibly good, a smell that is still with me today.

It's absolutely, one of the most memorable moments of my elementary years. I was anxious around my teacher because of her skin color. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine any one in the year 2008 saying the stuff that I said and thought as a nine year old fourth grader??!! I can't. It just totally blows my mind.

It's hard to believe that 32 years ago, I had these types of questions because today, skin color is so irrelevant to me. But it's that way because Mrs. Crowley took time to answer the bizarre, but innocent questions of a nine year old girl raised in a very ignorant home. By the time the next semester rolled around, my parents had pulled me and my sister out of Indian Village and placed us in a Catholic school. I only had Mrs. Crowley as my teacher for four short months however, it was an extremely valuable four months for me.

In 1976, Mrs. Crowley influenced and inspired me more than any other historical black American figure has. Here was a woman who was willing to subject herself to the ignorance of an entire community just so that she could teach and make a difference. And she did. Probably more than she ever realizes. Her influence and actions has had a rippling affect on my life. It's because of her that I never thought twice about dating someone of a different color, race, or religious background. It's because of her that I'm a better parent. It's because of her that Ethan's outlook on life is to evaluate every one by their actions and not by their physical attributes. She taught me that what was inside mattered most, a lesson I should have learned from my parents.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Continuing Everett White's, "You Know You Are From Fort Wayne When"

Everett White - love his list. I started adding my own as a comment and it became too large! Read his list. Add to it.

Here's my additions!

1) You auditioned for Tony Randall when he was in town.

2) You remember shopping at Mr. Wigg's and then Heck's.

3) You remember Glenbrook without the Glenbrook Commons addition.

4) You remember shopping at Ayr-way.

5) You looked forward to the Arch-way factory tour and the cookies you got afterwards.

6) You looked forward to the Key III candies factory tour and the candy you got afterwards.

7) You shopped at Dolly Madison's on Bluffton road and didn't care if the snack cakes were expired - they STILL tasted fantastic!

8) You loved eating subs at KMart.

9) You remember the blue light - not just the blue light specials - at KMart.

10) Grade school was K-thru 6 (I think this changed in 1974).

11) There was "Times Corner" but no Coventry.

12) You remember Gold Mine before it was Tilt and then Mad Anthony's before it was Tilt.

13) You remember when Waynedale was called Waynedale.

14) You liked riding the train at the zoo.

15) You remember when the African Veld was opened.

16) You remember when there was no food and beverage tax.

17) You remember WHY they implemented the food and beverage tax.

18) You remember Anthony Wayne Bank - downtown.

19) You remember Jimmie's Pizza Inn.

20) You had a birthday party at Shakey's Pizza.

21) You remember the Cat's Meow.

22) You remember Mike the Talking Bike.

23) You remember Mr. Yuk.

24) You remember the Freedom Train.

25) You remember Trailways Buses.

26) You remember the City Utilities billboard sign that said, "Fort Wayne, City of Enterprise...Leading Indiana in Economic Growth".

27) You remember Eavey's Market.

28) You remember when Cindy's Diner was called Noah's, Jack's, or Marge's.

29) You remember where Noah's, Jack's, Marge's was located at.

30) You remember when Roger's bought into the Cub Foods concept.

31) You remember when Roger's and Scott's were the two main playa's in town.

32) You remember listening to Bob Siever's on WOWO.

33) You had your picture taken with Santa Clause downtown.

34) You shopped at Nobson's.

35) You shopped at one of the A&P's.

36) You remember the following shopping centers, Time Corners, Park West, Covington Plaza, Colony Center, Casselwood Center, Anthony Wayne Village, Rudisill Center, Del Mart Plaza, Homewood Shopping Center, Statewood Center, East Statewood Center, Georgetown Square, Hazlewood Plaza, North Anthony Center, Maplewood Plaza, Market Place of Canterbury, Riveria Plaza, Washington Square, Pine Valley Mall, White Swan Plaza, Northcrest.

37) You remember being 19, loading up the car, and driving over to Ohio with your friends to buy wine coolers.

38) You remember Rock America.

39) You remember when KISS came to town and how big of a deal that was.

40) You collected beer cans.

41) You would one-up your buddies by finding beer cans made out of steel and not just plain aluminum

42) You remember before it was 21 Alive.

43) You remember Dick Florea.

44) You remember Summit Bank.

45) You remember when One Summit Square didn't exist.

46) You remember K & K Insurance.

47) You remember when people used to crash into the house that was over by Glenbrook (can't remember the intersection name - but people used to go straight - when they were inebriated - instead of turning - and going straight - crashed them into that person's house).

48) You went on a tour of the Old Fort with your class.

49) You remember Peoples Trust Bank.

50) You remember what "The Fort Wayne Story" was (i.e. huge scandal).

51) You remember the Baer Field Thruway.

52) You remember the Zig-Zag Night Club.

53) You remember the block of Columbia Street and Harrison being referred to as "The Landing".

54) You remember how cool it was the first time you saw "The Globe" at the downtown library.

55) You played in the Wildcat League.

56) You were invited to the John Cougar concert as a thank you for helping out with the sandbagging efforts.

57) Someone in your family worked at GE, GTE, Lincoln Life, or International Harvester.

58) You remember Franklin Variety.

59) You know who Lester Grille was.

60) You bought cheese from the Mouse House.

61) You remember the fire at Karen's Kitchen.

62) You remember the slogan, "Hitch to Kitch".

63) You bought goodies from Richard's bakery.

64) You loved eating at Burger Chef because of their works bar.

65) You remember when they first added "drive-through" options to gas stations (i.e. when you could drive up to some guy who sat in a booth, and you could ask for something like bread or milk and pay for it there).

66) You slid down he big red slide and or rode the go-carts behind Scott's on Paulding Road.

67) You rode your bike to Andy's gas station and grocery store.

68) There were paddles used at Fort Wayne Community School.

69) You participated in the YMCA after-school program (i.e., they would come to your elementary school, once a week, pick you up, and take you to the "Y" for swim lessons).

70) You remember the buildings on Wells Street that were the "old orphanage" - before the YMCA took them over.

71) You remember people coming to your elementary school and showing you that a tablespoon of jelly equaled the amount of sugar you could fit into one of those gerber baby food jars.

72) Dr. Ingleman was your orthodontist and his only office was on Tillman Road.

73) You remember that WPTA had a theme song they used to run as commercials called, "Still the One" (sung by the group - Orleans).

74) You remember Joselyn Steel.

75) You remember when the Wells Street Bridge was one step away from falling apart and was scary to walk across.

76) You remember Wayne Candies and what Wayne Buns were (and also - all of the different varieties of them).

77) You got your senior class picture taken at Watters Studio.

78) You remember when Dean Pantazi had hair :) and when Paul Helmke had black - not grey hair.

79) You remember when the Botanical Gardens didn't exist.

80) You went with your class to Fox Island.

81) You went with your church group to King's Island and/or Cedar Point.

82) You were a caddy at the Orchard Ridge Country Club.

83) Queen of Angels girls basketball team was the team to beat.

84) You knew what Stillman's Department store was.

85) You remember Falstaff's Brewery and when it closed.

86) You ate at Papa Suzetti's.

87) You had milk delivered to your house by some guy in a truck from Allen Dairy (ours was named FRANK).

88) You remember eating at Godfather's Pizza.

89) You went with your mom when she redeemed her S & H Green Stamps.

90) You remember the Greyhound Bus Station on Jefferson - when it was in use (and not "abandoned").

91) When working at Lincoln Life meant that you got off at noon on Friday.

92) You remember Joanne Lantz, Mike Downs, Jack Ulmer, and Phil Kennell

* More to come as I think of them...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Designer/Project Architect of Southtown Mall Needs Your Help

Hello Everyone,

If you could get the word out, I'd appreciate it. I have already sent to him, the pictures online from the library.

IMPORTANT: He is looking for pictures of happier times - not those that show the place, right before demolition (which is all that I seem to be able to find myself online).



I was the designer and project architect for Southtown Mall while I was working for Daverman Assoc. in Grand Rapids, MI in the 1960's. The developer was Melvin Simon & Assoc. I had the unhappy experience of stopping by the Mall in September 2001 and seeing it pretty much abandoned. If you have any photos of the mall, especially the center court or the exterior please email them to me.

Robert Amor


Here's his web site:
And his email address: architect-amor AT

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

PART 1 - Indian Village Elementary School - 4th Grade

Alrighty. It's time for another class picture. Feast your eyes on a group of pre-hormonal Hoosier kiddies. I'll tell you a little bit more about fourth grade - and in particular - the people who were a part of this class...tomorrow.

Indian Village Elementary School, 1976-77

Row 1: Tony Lude, Tom Stinson

Row 2: Cathy Caldwell, Errol Stech, Janice Smith, Brian Rice, Skip Shock

Row 3: Tom Elston, Kelly Miller, Melanie Davis, Ralph Barva, Shonee Bobilya, Lori Schmidt

Row 4: Glen McCormick, David White (?), Joyce Lloyd, Billy ? , Mike Sharp

Row 5: Tim Bush, Kelli Biddle, Brian Blazer, Shelly Vasquez, Beth Fruechtenicht

Row 6: Rodney Rider, Kristina Frazier, Danny Gould, Lewis Mastin

Row 7: Kim Spore, Robert Stone, Belinda Flotow

Grade School in Indiana??? We're Looking For Pictures

Attention all Hoosiers.

We're looking for pictures of you and your class from elementary school.

Elementary School.

* Before you looked too geeky.
* Before you had braces.
* Before you cared about what you wore (i.e. your mother dressed you).

Pull 'em out.

Scan 'em in.

Post them here.

In addition, if you know anyone who attended St. Therese Catholic School in Fort Wayne, they are rallying the alumni troops - and are working on an alumni directory.

Two Hours Later - Frustration Sits In

So, I was trying to pull a past aerial photo of the Fort Wayne Drive-In (also referred to as Bluffton Road Drive-In at some point). Retrieved the address - verified it with a couple of sites that keep track of defunct movie drive-in's, and ta-dah!


Either I'm looking at the wrong maps or the drive in was a figment of many imaginations.

If anyone has any better luck locating it, let me know :).

Ft. Wayne Drive-In Theater
5800 Bluffton Road
Ft. Wayne, IN 46809

Here's the map resource I used:

I clicked on all years - 1938, 1957, 1964, and 1972.