Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Cathedral

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

1122 South Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46802-3130

Photo Credit: KFH (May 2008)

God and church have always been a factor in my family's life. My great-grandmother...Helena Starost Roy Kline...was a Catholic girl, through in through. She raised her three sons - Wayne (my grandfather), Walter Jr., and Kenneth as good Catholic boys. When Wayne and Walter Jr. grew up and married (Kenneth died as a boy), their children also continued the Catholic traditions.

The downtown churches - Cathedral, St. Mary's, and St. Patrick's were the three churches that generations of my family belonged to. I can find old newspaper clippings of marriages, funerals, first communions, baptisms, and school attendance.

Although much of my childhood revolved around St. Therese, most of my life's major events have taken place in Cathedral.

Photo: 1967 (from left) Wayne Roy, Kristina Frazier, Helena Starost Roy Kline, Patricia Frazier.

I was baptized there, I was married there, and my grandfather's funeral was held there. When I was a young adult, I sang in choir and attended mass there. I wasn't an every week person but I certainly considered myself a Catholic girl.

When I left Fort Wayne, all association with my Catholic church (in general) ceased. Part of that was my uncomfortableness with living in the Indianapolis area (it's still too big for me and doesn't have that small city/big town feeling that Fort Wayne always gave me). The other reason I didn't attend church was that I was pretty angry at God for taking away my grandfather. Even though I had expressed this opinion to Grandpa (while he was close to death even), he was very steadfast in his belief of God and was even perturbed at me for ever mentioning (me) "not believing in God anymore".

For 22 years, I have carried that pain with me - my grandfather's hastened and unfair death, my anger at God, and some of my grandfather's last words to me.

2009 has been a horrible year. You see I haven't posted much this year on my blog and I can tell you that much of that has to do with the heartbreak, heartache, and misfortune I have experienced this year.

Recently though, that anger that I've been holding on to for 22 years has dissipated. I can't tell you what happened exactly - it wasn't just one was a series of events and signs that made me realize that it was time to let go.

I still miss my grandfather but I know that I was one of the luckiest chicks on earth - to have had a man in my life who taught me so many life lessons and who loved me unconditionally...what more could anyone want? I no longer deny my belief in God and suddenly, I have a yearning to be close to my Cathedral again.

When I think about my Cathedral, I feel a sense of peace, a sense of awe, and I feel close to the things that have always been important to me (but you know, time/space sometimes makes you forget what those are). If I lived in Fort Wayne, I'd be right back there - singing in choir, attending mass (mostly) weekly but unfortunately, I don't live there anymore and now, I have to find somewhere else to continue the Catholic girl traditions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fort Wayne Box Company

My Grandpa was the kind of guy who worked multiple jobs. He was a responsible man and did whatever he could to support his family.

One of the jobs he had was working for the Fort Wayne Box Company. In fact, it's the place where my grandparents first met each other.

Fort Wayne Box Company Invoice

I absolutely adore this invoice - mostly because it has a drawing of the actual building in the left hand corner.

I thought the detailing of the building was magnificent and I said to myself - ain't no way...given Fort Wayne's history of tearing down things that exist in the downtown area - ain't no way - this building still exists.

But guess what? I was wrong.

From Google Earth Maps

16 W Superior St - Google Maps_1262060287444

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This is the Downtown that I Remember (Kinda)

Postcard of Calhoun Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana

I'm going to go see my Grandma this week and whenever I think of Grandma, I think of our frequent trips to the downtown area (in the 70's). I don't have a picture of G.C. Murphy's from that exact time period, but this postcard comes pretty close to what I remember things looking like when I was a youngster.

Mention G.C. Murphy's to any child of the fort and the first thing they'll probably bring up is the donuts (machine now in place at Cindy's Diner). Yes, of course, those comments would roll off of my lips, but the first thing that always pops into my head is...the basement area.

I know, you think I'm crazy...the basement area? When you went in doors, you'd go down a couple set of stairs. It was like 10 steps and then room to rest ;). And then another 10 steps - something like that ;).

Anyway - what was in the basement? Clearance, my friends...clearance! Murphy's had these shallow bins with things marked down ridiculously. It always always always smelled like the rubber from the bottom of our tennis shoes in that place. The ceilings were low and the place was badly lit. Still, my grandma could sniff out a great deal and I was sure to leave with something new!

Another neat thing about Murphy's is that the PTC buses had their main hubs there. We might take the bus downtown, shop at Murphy's while waiting for our transfer out to say - Southtown or Park West (had to hit up Mr. Wiggs some days). And heck, if we missed our transfer - just more time to hang out in Murphy's! Plenty to do, see, and certainly eat.

When Murphy's - well the building - was demolished or redone or whatever - I was no longer living in Fort Wayne. Now, when I'm in the fort and I'm walking in this area, I don't even recognize much. Almost all of the "landmark" type of buildings or businesses no longer exist or have been changed to a point where they are unrecognizable. Sometimes I think, Fort Wayne might have been better off building that 465 type of a loop through Downtown (this was like back in the 40's? 50's?).

But back to Murphy's. There will never, ever be another place like it again. And I'm thankful that my grandparents immersed me in the experience of it.

P.S. If you want to see even MORE detail of the postcard, click on the picture and it will take you to my Flickr account. At the top, you'll see an option to see ALL SIZES. The details are pretty amazing!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fifth Grade and the Overthrow of Miss Majewski

I know it's been awhile since I wrote about St. Therese, but now that I'm literally having dreams about it - and specifically- the fifth grade - I thought it was time to revisit the school in my blog.

Remember - I went to Indian Village Elementary School until the second semester of fourth grade. At that time, my mother switched my sister and I over to St. Therese and my first experience with parochial school was with Mr. Wunderlin.

One thing to mention to you is that I never felt like I fit in at St. Therese (although this was a pretty universal feeling for me at ALL of the schools I attended). A couple of kids used to make fun of me for the hand me downs I wore (my winter coats always came from Goodwill/Salvation Army) and except for being tall, thin, and one of the smartest kids, I pretty much did my best to blend in to the background.

Fifth grade should have been a lot like fourth grade, right? Same building, same kids, just moving one room over, with a different teacher.

Boy - we were wrong about that!

Our teacher in fifth grade was Miss Majewski (and apologies if I have misspelled her last name). She was new. She wasn't the one that was there the year previously. Miss M - allegedly - used to be a nun before becoming our teacher. I only had heard this as a rumor and this day...don't know if it was true or not.

Miss M's style of teaching was very different. We would spend a great deal of time, during the school day...meditating. Seriously. Like everyday, we would have the lights shut off in the room and the door closed and she would instruct us to close our eyes. We could even move to the floor or sit in a corner if we wanted to. It was very odd.

One day, my mother asked me what kinds of things I was learning in fifth grade. I couldn't think of anything remarkable to tell her - nothing exciting and new. For me, it seemed like a rehash of the past four years. I did tell her that I was learning how to meditate and her ears perked up real fast.

When I told her what I meant by meditating and how often we did it, she was speechless. I wasn't sure if there was something wrong with meditating (was it against the Catholic religion??) but soon enough, she told me that she wasn't spending money to have me sit in a classroom every day with the lights out.

I wasn't sure what would happen next and frankly, I had other things to worry about (they were repaving our street and I wanted to make sure that I could sneak out and leave my handprint somewhere for all of eternity).

Over the course of the next few weeks, my mother was meeting with the parents of some of my other classmates - Shannon Juza's mom, Alice Jordan's mom, Tiena Spears's mom, Gregg Jehl's mom...and pretty soon, there was this small mob of them, knocking down the principal's door. They were pretty ticked off that their kids were "meditating" instead of learning.

It's not like the adults tuned me into what was going on but I assume that Miss M was put on some sort of probation. And then one day - POOF - she was gone.

It's not like I wished her any ill will - she was nice enough - just seemed not interested in teaching the class.

For a short span of time, my mom bonding together with those other made me not feel like such an outsider in their world. I was very proud of my mom for taking action and I had the opportunity to get to know two of my classmates (Tiena and Shannon) lots better.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Love for World History - It All Started With Peter Jennings

If it's not obvious, let me just state it right now. I absolutely love history...not in a memorizing facts and details type of way but in a wow - so much of our past is an insight into where we are today and where we are headed to in the future.

I love understanding where we've been, how we got here, the psychology and sociology of how everything came to be. And this love and adoration of world history - well - I can trace it back to my evenings, watching Peter Jennings.

When I was eleven years old, Peter Jennings, along with Frank Reynolds and Max Robinson, anchored ABC World News Tonight. I wasn't much of a television news girl - I preferred reading the News Sentinel - however, the format with the three anchors appealed to me.

I was particularly drawn to the anchor who was located in a foreign country - Peter Jennings. First, his accent was intriguing. Remember, I didn't get out much so I had no idea that he was from Canada! Second, the manner and tone in which he spoke to the viewer really captured my attention. Peter had this sense of wonderment, sense of purpose that appealed to me. I never thought he was 'attractive' (I wouldn't call him ugly though). He was just someone who really opened my mind to what was going on outside of the U.S.

After a particular news segment on Beirut or Isreal or some other place or people or culture that I didn't know anything about, I would jot down enough information so that the next time I was at the library, I would pull out one of those giant encyclopedia volumes and read up on what I didn't know.

After Frank Reynolds died in 1983, Peter Jennings took over the sole anchor responsibilities full-time and every single evening, I looked forward to the opening ding ding ding ding of the ABC World News Tonight jingle. It was a signal that Peter was about to teach me something new about what was going on in the world I lived in.

I was a faithful Peter Jennings viewer - always tuning into him (and skipping over CNN) for any of the important, breaking coverage. Yes, even after I could get all of my news over the internet.

When he passed away in 2005, I felt like I had lost the older brother or uncle that I never had. When he died, I knew that broadcast television news would never be the same and you know, it hasn't. I don't watch television news anymore because there's zero credibility in the reporting (not to mention the fact that everything seems to be 20 second soundbites).

Sadly, I think my generation was the last to grow up with credible television news anchors/reporters.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beth...the Beginning

As I've stated previously, I don't have many photos from my childhood because most went up in flames when our house was struck by lightning (and subsequently, burnt to the ground). I mention this specifically, for this particular post, because it pains me not to have any other picture of me and Beth together. This is the one - one snapped at my seventh birthday party.

Pictured (from left): Me, Ericka Couch, Lisa Smith, Beth Fruechtenicht

But back to the beginning...

I don't remember the exact moment that I met Beth. This feels strange to me because my memory during this time is pretty vivid and detailed. Our first encounter though, had to be in Kindergarten - Miss Crouse's pm class at Indian Village Elementary School.

Beth was everything I was not - blond, perfectly proportioned, well-off, and she had the ideal parents. Her mom Sharon - I'm not sure what she did (I assumed she did something for a living) - was possibly, the nicest woman I have ever met in my entire life time. Her dad Tom - was a very important man. A state representative...involved in lots of local Fort Wayne important things...

And so having Beth as my friend should have seemed strange and out of place. But it wasn't. I can't explain it. She was like another world to me, but one that accepted and embraced me for who I was.

Beth and I did have lots of things in common.

First, we were competitive. Some of that had to do with physical co-location (we both had the same teachers K-4). But most of it had to do with me, wanting to be like Beth. She was smart, and every chance I got, I would go head to head with her in academic situations. That ranged from seeing who could get the higher grades on the spelling tests to seeing who could progress quicker through our reading books (i.e. Rainbows, Fiesta, Rewards, Panorama, Kaleidoscope, etc...)

Second, we were both Girl Scouts. We started out as Brownies and then we 'bridged' over to Juniors. Beth's mom, who was one of our leaders, was there the entire way - teaching us the Girl Scout Promise and helping us earn our badges (yes, I need an entire series - just on Girl Scouts!).

Third, we were both labeled as boy crazy. While I was a bit more forthcoming with who I had a crush on (Tom Stinson, Lewis Mastin), Beth was a bit more cautious about revealing who she liked since most of them seemed to live close to her.

Fourth, we were both fans (and active players of) tetherball, kickball, and four square. I could always count on her to play any of these at recess. Sometimes though (at recess), we would just hang together and talk about 'stuff'. Stuff could be - toys, dolls, boys, other girls, teachers, homework - basically nothing was off limits.

Beth and I were thicker than thieves for five years. In those five years - although I've said that we were very different from each other - we both ended up experiencing a lot of the same challenges (and heartbreaks).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Burger Chef on Bluffton Road

Burger Chef 1970's
Originally uploaded by kristinafh
This isn't the picture of THAT Burger Chef but still, it looks remarkably like the one that we used to visit from time to time.

I loved the "fun meals" and the works bar was awesome. It was one of the earliest times in my life that I was allowed to make decisions for myself - i.e. what to put on my burger and what I could leave off. I was always a fan of tomatoes - lots of them. Not so much on the pickles or lettuce. Mustard was always left off but ketchup and mayo were two that were always found on the bun side that didn't face the cheese.

We only seemed to visit the Burger Chef at the Bluffton Road location - maybe because that's the one we lived closest to. I know that there were other ones located in the city - one on Coldwater Road and one on East State Street. Maybe there were other locations too...those are just the ones I remember.

If you're a fan of Burger Chef - you've got to check out this guy's website -

He has TONS of pictures and I had a blast looking through all of the old stuff.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The McMillen Globe

Photo Credits: CONTENTdm Collection

I don't think that I can say this enough times. I absolutely loved my downtown library. It was big, had lots of books, cool fountains to throw pennies in, and most importantly, the GLOBE.

Whenever I would find whatever books I had planned on reading for the day, I would plant myself in one of the comfortable, cozy chairs, located right next to the GLOBE.

There was something magical about that darn GLOBE. People have told me that it wasn't geographically - 100% accurate - but I neither believed them nor cared. I could watch that thing turn and turn and even when it was off of its tracks/needed oiled (notably whenever you heard the click, click, click and saw it jerk a bit with every twist), I was mesmerized by its presence.

It almost looked - you know - paper mache'd although I know from looking at historical photos that it was not. I always thought to myself, one day, I'm going to go to this country or that country...and sometimes I would close my eyes and say that wherever they landed (on the GLOBE), is where I would take my very first out of country trip. Yes, I was a um...weird child ;).

When the downtown library was rebuilt here recently, my biggest fear was that the GLOBE would be gone. I did see it near the front entrance. It was roped off - just like it had been years ago - but in this case, it sort of sat to the side. Makes me a bit sad that many patrons probably walk by it without even giving it a glance.

I know from historical photos that the GLOBE was given to the library from Mr. McMillen. The plaque that sits at the base says, Given to library by the boys and girls of the Wild Cat Baseball League and the Girl Scout of the Limberlost Girl Scout Council.

But why a globe? What's the back story? Everyone I've asked doesn't seem to know. I'm dying of curiosity....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It Was A Tuesday, in November...1973

I came home from school like I normally did - on the yellow bluebird school bus. My bus stop was at the corner of Pinecrest and South Cedar Crest Circle so I had to walk a little bit to my house. As I neared my house, I saw that there was an ambulance parked in front of the Boice's house. The Boice's lived exactly - right across the street from us at 4718 West Cedar Crest Circle.

During the summer time, my sister and I would play with Jackie. Jackie was nearer my sister's age (at least 1-2 years younger than me) however, her backyard was just way too awesome to let age get in the way ;). In her backyard, there were several fruit trees - apple, cherry - and some vines that grew up against this latticed fence panel. I was thinking that there were grapes and blackberries but perhaps I am mistaken. My sister Patty will probably remember though.

We would always pick the apples and cherries for Jackie's mom. In turn, she would make some of the best pies ever. She used to reward us for our hard work (summertime is hot for sure!) by meeting us at the screen door, in the back, with Popsicles by Good Humor. Orange, Grape, and Cherry for the three flavors and it mattered not which of the three I had. The most important factor was that I got to have one of these yummy treats!

Jackie's mom (her name - Joahn - pronounced like Joanne), was a very soft-spoken woman. For anyone with five children to be soft-spoken - wow - isn't that just a complete freak of nature!! That's right, Mrs. Boice and her husband Carl, had five children: John, Carl Jr., Kurt, Kathy, and Jackie.

We knew all of the kids. Kathy, who was about five years older than me - well - I worshipped her. I thought she was beautiful and kind and model-like. John still lived at home although he seemed to not be there much and Carl Jr. and Kurt came around fact, one of them lived in a house down the road.

My dad was friendly with Carl aka Mr. Boice. I'm not sure how their friendship started but I know that beer was involved.

My mom tells me that Joahn kept to herself. She didn't seem to have any friends but she was always friendly to everyone she came into contact with. I always thought it was odd that my mom and her weren't close friends given that we played with her daughter, we lived across the street, and my dad hung out with Carl. Now I understand why.

Although I remember Joahn being pretty, and I can see her standing at the back porch handing us Popsicles or giving us pies to take home to our family, I have absolutely no recollection of her face. I can see her body, I can see her hair, but the rest has been blurred in my memory. My sister and my mom tell me that daughter Kathy looked very much like her mom.

When I came into the house that Tuesday, in November 1973, my sister was already home (she only had half-day kindergarten) and my mom was in the kitchen.

I asked my mom why there was an ambulance in front of Jackie's house. Was somebody hurt? Her face was solemn and she tried to change the subject. But me, never to be derailed by wanting to know answers, asked her again. She said that it had been there since 1pm and that she knew that Jackie's mom had been hurt.


I needed more information. My mother calmly sat me down and said that there had been an accident. Mrs. Boice was up in the attic cleaning while little Jackie took her afternoon nap. My mom said that she didn't have all of the details but she had been told that a gun had accidentally been discharged.

I ran back to our front entrance area and pulled the curtains open to see what I could see? Was Mrs. Boice alright? Where was Jackie? And Kathy? And Mr. Boice? My mom made me get away from the window (staring wasn't nice ya know!) and I spent the rest of the evening, fretting over the Boice's.

I know that my dad talked to Carl. I know that my mom and dad whispered a lot in the kitchen (without me or Patty) that night. Eventually, they did tell us that Mrs. Boice had died and I remember crying myself to sleep that night, with the pillow covering up my whimpers as much as possible. I had to be strong for my sister.

The funeral was held three days later - at D.O. McComb & Sons. Mrs. Boice was later buried at Covington Memorial Gardens. She was only 38 years old.

I've mentioned before that our neighborhood was close-knit but the odd thing about this situation is that absolutely NO ONE talked about it. It's like the entire situation never occurred. I was intuitive enough (yes, even at seven) to know not to ask Kathy or Jackie questions but it always weighed heavily on my mind. Why was there a gun in the attic and how could Mr. Boice have been so irresponsible as to have left it out where Mrs. Boice tripped (this was my theory) and accidentally shot herself?

Years later, my mom had told me that Mrs. Boice had purposely taken her life...using a rifle. She went up to the attic, we assume, so that Jackie would not be the one to find her.

Almost every time I feel the first Fall chill in the air and/or the first grey Fall skies of the year, I often think of Mrs. Boice. I wonder what made her climb the stairs of the attic, take that rifle, and end her young life in the most gruesome of manners. I wonder if she was depressed for a long time or if something recently had happened to make her feel such despair. I wonder if she even understood that she would be leaving her five, beautiful children...motherless.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Guy and His Gun

In January of 1986, I worked three jobs. Why? I was 19 and I was on a quest to make money and to keep myself as busy as possible. I always liked to be on the go and with three jobs - I certainly was!

One of the disadvantages of living on Third Street was that all parking occurred on the street. My used 1979 Red Honda Accord could amazingly fit into small spots and believe me, I took advantage of that as much as possible. If I happened to come home late, I usually had to park at least a block away. My grandparents (who I lived with), were never thrilled if my car was not within view. I think they just liked to keep an eye on me and my stuff :).

615 3rd St, Fort Wayne, IN 46808 - Google Maps_1253145512412

On one particular Winter night, the parking situation really sucked. Instead of getting to park on Third Street, I had to go down to Orchard and then, park at the very end of it - almost at the corner of Orchard and High Street.

615 3rd St, Fort Wayne, IN 46808 - Google Maps_1253145470998

The black splat is where I ended up parking.

As I was walking up the sidewalk, nearing the corner of Orchard and Third Street, the light of a street lamp bounced off of one car and made it stand out more than the others parked on the street.

I looked to the right and I saw a guy - about my age - sitting in the driver's seat, with a gun in his hand. He looked distressed. We made eye contact. I diverted my eyes - but in a way that showed no fear. Why? I couldn't tell you. I probably should have been afraid. But everything inside of me kept me composed and calm and I continued walking at an even pace towards our house.

I walked inside - it was after 10 p.m., but my grandpa was still awake. He had just retired a few weeks beforehand and he claimed that he couldn't get used to not being awake for second shift. Secretly, I think he worried about me being out "in the dark" and so staying up, watching television kept him entertained until I got home.

So anyway, I walked in and I told my grandpa that we needed to call 911. I explained to him what I had just seen and amazingly, I was still very calm about it. For many years, Grandpa worked as a Security Supervisor at St. Joe Hospital so before we picked up the phone to place the call, he asked me specific questions.

Where exactly was the car parked?
Was it running? Or off?
What did it look like?
What did he look like?
Did he see you?
Did he make any attempt to get out of his car?
What did his gun look like?
What position was the gun in?

Most of my answers weren't specific enough (like I knew it was a mid-size American car but I didn't know what model/make/year), and forget the gun stuff. I just knew that it was a small pistol - it didn't have a wooden handle (you know - like handguns did in the Westerns on television).

My grandpa was very patient and in the span of 2-3 minutes, he got a lot of information out of me. He placed the 911 phone call himself (giving the details I had provided) and within 15 minutes, a uniformed FWP guy was at our door.

My grandpa and him got on well. The policeman took my statement and he asked the same type of questions that my grandpa had (and then some).

At the end of this process, he told us that the guy was upset over a domestic situation and that he had planned on killing himself. I was kind of shocked - I guess I never really stopped to think what was wrong with him or why he had a gun (or what he was going to do with it).

The policeman explained that he and his partner had approached the car (and its driver) to ascertain the situation and that is what took him so long to get over to see us. The individual had a gun permit but they did not feel comfortable with letting him go. It didn't sound like he was arrested - more that someone (or someones) were spending some time, talking to him. He was definitely out of the immediate area and the police gave him strict instructions not to come back near this area.

I guess I should have been comforted by that last part but really, I don't ever remember being scared or frightened. Something in his eyes - that split second we made eye contact - told me that this wasn't a guy who was going to hurt me.

But you know, I got a lecture from both the policeman and my grandfather about walking alone, so late at night, blah blah blah.

As he was leaving, the policeman shook my grandfather's hand and then looked at me and said, "You probably saved his life tonight". I didn't know what to say to that. So I said nothing. He didn't appear as if he was looking for a response.

After he left, and my grandpa locked up for the night, we sat in the living room and watched some late night television (Channel 55!). Neither of us said much and about an hour later, we went to bed.

The next morning, my grandma was all frantic. She pulled out every possibility (I could have been raped, murdered, kidnapped) and I just shook my head at her. Usually, when she got this way, me and grandpa just let her rant. Eventually, she went a little over the top and my grandpa stepped in to cut her off.

"Irene. Our granddaughter did the right thing. I don't like that she was out walking in the dark but in the end, it all turned out alright for everyone, including the young man who might have been found this morning by someone else walking past his car."

That quieted her - real quick :).

Every once in awhile, whenever I had to park on Orchard, I always wondered what happened to the guy. All of these years later, I still can't look at that corner without thinking about that night. Although we only shared a couple of seconds of co-existence, I hoped that he had been able to move past the type of pain that led him to that night in his car with his gun.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Interloper

Neighborhood Kids
Originally uploaded by kristinafh
In our neighborhood - everyone - and I do mean EVERYONE - knew each other. It wasn't just a one neighbor radius either (meaning - you probably expected us to know the people who live to the right of us, to the left of us, across the street, and directly behind us). Oh no, this neighborhood I grew up in - everybody knew everybody. In some ways, knowledge equaled a sense of safety and security. We were a young neighborhood, but already, we were pretty set in our ways.

And then, there were these "rules" that almost every kid abided by (or tried to). Most of these weren't rules that were written down or given to us as instructions. They were rules (and boundaries) that we all sort of picked up as we experienced life in the neighborhood.

For example - there were some neighbors who were really grouchy about people crossing through their yards. In fact, over a one year period, Sears must have been licking their lips at the windfall they experienced by the number of chain-link fences installed in our neighborhood.

More examples - kickball games usually took place on Cedar Crest Circle; the bike "route" was Cedar Crest Circle - Pinecrest - back to Cedar Crest. Kyle Road was too dangerous for bike riding. Skateboarding happened on Pinecrest. Tree climbing was usually reserved for the big ole cherry tree on Scott's Court. If you had to use the (ahem) facilities and you were playing with the Beckstedt kids - too bad. You had to go somewhere else cause their momma never let you in.

One summer, while playing with Tricia Manter in her big ole backyard (we were doing our typical Barbie things), we heard a voice from the other side of the wood fence. I looked at Tricia, she looked up and then looked back down, getting back to the business at hand (putting together Barbie's swimming pool).

The voice called out again. Tricia just ignored him. Not me though. I wanted to know who it was. I went to the back of the yard and I saw a boy, up in a neighbor's tree. I didn't recognize him. "Who are you?" He answered, "Wouldn't you like to know?" Of course I did. He was an interloper in our neighborhood. He was climbing trees of neighbors I knew - clearly - he was not a "neighbor". Then I heard a voice. "Tom. Come down here. Lunch is ready." To which he answered, "Okay grandma."

Weird. I went back to playing Barbies with Tricia. We didn't even acknowledge the voice in the back. By this time, the pool was up and it was time for Barbie, Ken, and Skipper to bask in all of their tanning glory.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Lobby of the Library

Fort Wayne Public Library

Photo Credits:,4349

Walking into the lobby of the downtown library was like walking into grandma and grandpa's house. There was always a certain smell - one I couldn't put my finger on. Everything was the same - nothing out of place. In the Library's case, walking through those doors, you'd always see the pools in front of you, the check-out area to the left, the staircase further down and to the right, and my most favorite permanent part of the place - the McMillen Globe. It was on the right, past the staircase.

The "pools" were these two, built-in, concrete, mini fountains where we would often through our pennies. It's actually surprising to me that kids didn't jump in them (they were very shallow) and/or that water didn't splash out (ahem kids innocently dropping coins) and make the adjoining floor space wet (causing a slip from a patron).

The magazine area was to the right and it had an area where you could sit and read. Magazines were bound in a contraption - I think - it was a red hard back with a clear front. They sat on these (tries to come up with some term that makes sense) - shelf that was tilted a bit so that the magazine would slide off. You could lift up the shelf to find past issues of a particular magazine (at least a year's worth - I think).

All of the magazines I was ever interested in reading...well...they were always not where I could find them. The exception was if we arrived first thing in the morning, when the library opened. The staff always did a good job of putting everything back where you could find them but you know - those lazy patrons :P.

I loved this library. This is the library I grew up in. This is the library that allowed me to explore my literary interests - all for the cost of nothing. What a powerful entity libraries are. Especially our own ACPL.


Photo Credits:,4873

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three Rivers Festival Souvenir Program

I don't know why it takes me so long to write stuff on my blog. I have millions of stories to tell - maybe I'm just suffering from writer's block!

Anyway, I thought that a good way to clean out the cobwebs would be to upload the Souvenir Program from the 1970 Three Rivers Festival. It is the first one I have memories of attending.

My entire family - mom, grandparents, aunts - all loved this festival.

There were some events we always went to (i.e.the raft race, the parade, the fun rides, music on the landing/at Freimann Square, the FOOD, the children's zoo events, boat rides, bed race, flea market).

There were some events where I only remember them happening once - or - us attending them once (i.e. boat race, bicycle race, great train robbery).

When I was seven, I marched in my first TRF parade - as a PAL-ette (Police Athletic League baton twirler). The route was VERY different from the one today. I'm not sure when it changed but at one time, we marched on Broadway, past G.E. and the park.

Even after my parents split up and we moved out of the area, we still returned for the festival. As an adult (when I lived in Fort Wayne and worked at Lincoln Life), I became a little disenchanted with it. It seemed to go from a community-type event to an ADHD type of event. What I mean by that is that the focus seemed to be OUT of focus. Some of the core events were chucked. Many events were scattered around the city so it was difficult to plan your day. It used to be that we parked and walked (when I was a kid). As an adult, I still parked and walked, but I had to drive, park (pay), walk, drive, park (pay), walk - on and on...

It's been about five years since I attended my last TRF. Although the elephant ears are always calling to me, it hasn't been enough to get me back to town.

Maybe someday.

As an aside - all of the pages of the program are located on my flickr account. I think you'll be VERY surprised at what you come across. From the events to the advertisers - wow - this is some walk down memory lane!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Postcard of Public Library

Looking at all of Virgil Marquart’s photo’s (and in this case a postcard), I am often transported back in time to places that meant the world to me.

Case in point – the Allen County Public Library.

This particular shot was taken (I'm guessing?) sometime in the late 60's/early 70's. I’m sure it had to be either very early in the morning and/or sometime early on a Sunday. There’s not any cars sitting in traffic and if you look at the streets that run parallel and adjacent to the library, you won’t find the cars that typically decorated each side of the library.

As I said in a previous post, I spent a lot of time at this library because my mother went through a phase where she did a lot of research on our family tree.

My mother became pretty familiar with the traffic pattern of the patrons which was important because parking near the library was almost impossible.

You see, back in the 70’s, there were actually a lot of buildings located around the library – Webster Street, Berry Street, Wayne Street, Washington Avenue, Jefferson Avenue – all had numerous buildings.

There was parking around the perimeter of the library – meter parking. I was a frequent meter feeder – nickels and dimes and at one time – I’m thinking even pennies.

That was the preferred place to park because if we were there after the sun went down, my mom always felt safer if we didn’t have to walk very far.

Located down the street was a parking lot where you had to pay to park on nice, black pavement. We never, ever took our chances with parking illegally (either in one of these lots or in the lots of businesses) because the police were frequent ticketers of downtown parkers.

As you all know, the library underwent a complete overhaul and expansion. I did visit it last summer and even though I was impressed with its grandness and new technology gadgets, it felt a little stiff and formal. With time and more visits, I'm sure I'll get used to the changes.

In the meantime, I have my memories. I have my Virgil Marquart postcard.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2, 1990

We were lucky (and thrilled) to be married in Fort Wayne - 19 years ago today.

Married at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Monsignor Lester. Reception at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce.

Photography by Michael's. Cake by Richard's Bakery. Flower's made by a friend of the family - purchased locally. Additional flower's purchased at Moring's Flowers and Gifts. Catering from a local group (name escapes me).

My wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses were purchased from some place downtown - name escapes me - will need to dig through my stuff to find that one out. Tuxes rented locally. Horse and carriage (later switched out to a limo because of lightening) provided by local company.

Can you tell? I loved relying on local businesses to help me with all of the details of my wedding. No chains - with the exception of the Tux people - were a part of my wedding.

I wonder if couples getting married now in Fort Wayne - still use local businesses for their happy day.

Oh - and happy 19 years to my loving husband.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Allen County Public Library

My Library Card

Look familiar?

I couldn't believe that I still had this. It was tucked away in a very old book that had stayed in my grandparents house when my mom moved us to Kentucky. Good thing too. This little piece of barely-stiff paper (otherwise known as an Allen County Public Library card) would have never survived a fire.

Looking at this card (yes - even if it is a "Dup.") brings back lots of memories for me.

Even though we lived in Waynedale - we spent a great deal of time downtown at "the" library. While my mom spent hours and hours in the basement (or wherever it was), researching our family tree, I would lose track of time, sitting in between the aisles and aisles of books and shelves. It was my own personal "think" ground. I'd go off in search of a book (maybe the latest Judy Blume?) and end up with that and then a dozen others that were completely unrelated.

Can you believe that fines were only 5 cents? Or that you could check out eight items at a time? Seems forever ago, doesn't it?

More to come on one of my favorite, childhood memories - the Allen County Public Library - tomorrow. Wanted to kick-start myself - get back here to writing on a more frequent basis. Don't worry - the memories didn't dry up...I just got a bit distracted with life...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Southgate Plaza Shopping Center

Southgate Shopping Center
Postcard of Southgate Plaza Shopping Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Photo by Madelyn Hendry.
Published by Marquart Photo Service, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

If you'd like to see a gigantic view of this picture, just click on it and it will take you to a much larger version on flickr.

There's no date associated to this postcard, but guessing by the cars pictured, it was sometime in the early 60's (although I am not a big car follower - I'm just wildly guessing here and I'll wait for one of you car buffs to correct me!).

I haven’t been to Southgate Shopping Plaza in years. By the time I was born, Penney’s had moved to Southtown Mall and of course, we never shopped at Kroger’s because the gigantic Scott’s shopping experience was on the other side of the road.

If and when we stopped in here, it was to visit the paint store (I think Ream Steckbeck Paint Co.). I also remember a shoe store too but we always walked by it without actually purchasing anything.

The Southgate Plaza, north of Pettit Avenue and east of Calhoun Street was opened April 18, 1955. It contained 40 store units at the outset on an area of 40 acres. Developed by the American Shopping Centers, Inc., it was the city’s first large center and provided parking for 2,500 cars. Major stores included Stillman’s, J.C. Penney, F.W. Woolworth, W.T. Grant, The People’s Trust Bank, Richman Brothers, Walgreen Drug Stores, and Kroger Supermarket.

Twentieth Century History of Fort Wayne, John Ankenbruck (1975) - Page 499

So I guess the parking was a big deal back then but for me - as a little kid - my biggest memory is how lost and disoriented I felt by the layout of the place. I was so used to shopping with my grandparents downtown or at Southtown Mall and this particular arrangement was confusing and to tell you the truth - lacked "eye candy".

Downtown, there was hustle and bustle and a connected sense of community. At Southtown Mall, once you stepped inside, it was like you were in another mini-city. Southgate was just a bunch of connected 'things' to me and an after thought to a Saturday shopping/outing.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Photo Credit:
Life Magazine, September 1967

Caption - "Lost child being traced in supermarket by store wide public address system."

So...when I last spoke to Mr. John Elliott (spokesman for Kroger), I had requested to take pictures of some special places within the store before it closed. He said that he was fine with my request and that I should contact the store manager to arrange a time that would be least disruptive to employees.

Although I've been very upset about the closing of the store, I have been looking forward to being allowed in to take photos of all of those hidden places (gems) that we employees were aware of that maybe shoppers either didn't know about or didn't have access to.

I took the day off of work today (vacation day) and placed a call to the Scott's Decatur Road Store manager this morning. After speaking with Dave, he said that he needed to run this by his management and that he would return my call.

About an hour later, John Elliott returned the call. It went to voice mail because I was on another line. He stated that my request was being turned down for two reasons.

First, because my presence would be a disruption to current employees. Second, it was his understanding that without prior authorization, I had already been inside the store taking pictures.

When I returned his phone call - it went to voice mail. I explained that I had followed his instructions to me - to the letter of the law - and that I hadn't been to Fort Wayne or Scott's Decatur Road and I had not taken any pictures. I do have pictures that were sent to me by readers of this blog however, they weren't necessarily the shots I was intending to take myself. I did not request for them to take pictures and frankly, I would have never posted them if I thought that this would invalidate the agreement.

It has been three hours, and I still have not heard back from him. I'm assuming my opportunity is lost and to say that I am upset - well - it's an understatement.

5:00 P.M. Update - John Elliott returned my phone call and said that the store's management was not comfortable with me because according to them, I had made an appearance at the store a few week's ago and while I was there, they confronted me.

It's just too bad it never happened. I haven't been to Fort Wayne since sometime in 2008.

Not sure why someone would feel the need to impersonate me and not sure why the store management is being a bunch of jerks.

Goodbye Scott's. It was nice knowing you.

Does Scott's at Decatur Road Have A Date With The Wrecking Ball?

I've received two emails and one blog comment indicating that this is the case. I'm really hoping that it's bad information/just a prank...If anyone has any information - please let me know.

Update @ 5:15 p.m. Thanks to Stephen Parker from AroundFortWayne - he checked with the City of Fort Wayne's Public Information Officer, Rachel Blakeman


I just checked with Kroger. Following the store's closure, the exterior
Scott's signage will be removed, but the cornucopia itself will remain.
Kroger has made no decision at this time about the future of the sign.

Sorry, but no pipers, Mayor or pomp and circumstance.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

el elefante es grande

Selsa Couch was born and raised in Taos, New Mexico. She came from a rather large family - at least four brothers and three sisters that I can remember. I only saw the whole crew together once but at different times, her mother, Margaret Anaya, and some of her sisters or brothers, would visit the Couch family in Fort Wayne.

That entire Anaya family was an animated bunch. When with each other, they would speak their native language (Spanish) and their hands would be doin' almost as much work as their lips. Please do not think that I am making fun of them - I'm certainly not. If anything, it made me aware very early in life how powerful non-verbal queues were to communicating with someone else.

Selsa's family had very deep roots in a world that frankly, I knew nothing about. The language, the traditions, the foods - they were all new to me. I was a good sport though - I kept my mouth shut and tried to blend in as well as I could.

One of the things that was extremely important to Selsa was that both of her children had a solid understanding of their roots. The playing out of these expectations came in the form of a strict, Catholic-church upbringing, a rigorous educational curriculum, and hands-on experience with traditions that Selsa herself experienced as a child.

I've already written about our CCD Classes, Confession, and Communion.

Another area that she was insistent that Ericka learn was the Spanish language. When the Couch's moved to Hadley Road, we jumped full-force into learning how to speak Spanish. Me and Ericka would sit in the nook area (between the kitchen and the family room), with our books (which Selsa purchased for us), and we would review our Spanish lessons with her.

This was independent from our school stuff - this was afterschool lessons and how I got mixed up into it - I'm not sure. It was probably a lot like all of the other things that my mom and Selsa conspired on (i.e. if it was good for one daughter - it would be good for the other daughter too).

Nouns and verbs.
Male and female versions of words.

It was a lot to learn.

Selsa used to drill us on the fundamental proununciations of the words. The phrase which I cannot get out of my head, "el elefante es grande".

Looks (and probably sounds) simple enough, right? Absolutely not. You needed to put emphasis in the right areas and your tone needed to reflect the statement that it was.

It was during this period of time in our friendship that I first noticed how tough Selsa was on Ericka.

Selsa was an elementary school teacher. She taught at Hoagland and then at Ward. Her teaching (and parenting) methodology reminded me a lot of my third grade teacher, Miss (Sandra) McDougall. She was tough, had high expectations, did not take any b.s., and did not allow for any excuses. Neither she nor Miss McDougall were mean - they were just very set in how they thought things should happen. It's a series of good qualities to have in a school teacher. In a parent? I have mixed emotions.

My mom wasn't anything like this (not to say she was a "better" parent or anything like that). Their styles were just totally different from one another. My mom was more laid back and casual about parenting and I think that I had higher expectations of myself than I think she had of me - or at least that she ever verbalized to me. She was basically a kid herself and although she was smart, she dropped out her junior year to have me. I think she was just pleased that I was a good kid who liked school, did well, and didn't cause issues for anyone (except my bratty sister PJ).

Sitting at the table, one Wednesday afternoon, practicing our Spanish - I saw it.

I saw the almost unbearably high standards for everything and anything.

I saw the cracks in my friend. She never broke down or fell apart. It was her demeanor, the sad, defeated look in her dark eyes. I didn't know how to fix it. My first reaction was to grab her hand and run out the back door and into the big, back yard.

But I didn't. I sat there with her and we continued through the lesson.

Afterwards, while waiting for my mom to pick me up, we went outside and spun ourselves around in circles until we got dizzy and fell to the ground laughing.

That's how me and Ericka used to deal with things in our lives. Distractions. Goofin' off. We never poured our hearts out to each other and we never had deep, insightful discussions. We were there for each other in a very silent way and for many years, it's probably what kept us both sane.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life on Hadley Road

We helped the Couch family moved into their new house on Hadley Road. There were a lot of "firsts" involved in this move (for me). For example...

1) It was the first time I saw a moving truck that big. When we moved from our apartment to a house, there were pick-up trucks and cars involved - no moving truck :).

2) I had never seen a house that big.

Some perspective for you. The house that they lived in on Kyle Road (I believe it was rented from the Toor's), was approximately 800 square feet.

Kyle Road

This is an aerial view of the house they moved into on Hadley Road.

Hadley Road

I would guess the house is at least 2500 sq ft. - maybe more. The driveway - which pretty much looks the same, was black tar-like material that sloped downward. In the winter time, it made it tricky to get vehicles in and out but during the mid to late 70's, Hadley Road was more of a side road. It didn't have the traffic that I'm sure it has today.

Other things I remember about the house...

No one ever used the front door - it was much easier to drive down the driveway and enter the house through the garage (which sat under the house).

The first floor, which had the living room, family room, dining room, 1/2 bath, and kitchen - was sparsely furnished in the beginning. In fact, the official "living room" and "dining room" had nothing in them and we would often use that area to goof off....Ericka would show off with her fancy gymnastics moves and I would twirl around and tap like I was Fred Astaire...

All of the bedrooms were located upstairs. Ericka kept her room kind of plain - it had her white, four poster canopy bed in it along with her dresser and night stand in it. Her younger brother (Aaron) though, wanted his room painted dark blue and I think he even had bunk beds.

For the first couple of months, things were different - obviously - because I just couldn't walk over to Ericka's house on my own (nor her to mine), however, we settled into a comfortable routine whereby I was able to spend the night with her often. Kind of like our own slumber party.

On one particular Friday, Ericka introduced me to a record - and an artist that I had never heard of - Elton John. Music was always in the background of my life but it wasn't until that very moment, that I honed in on my first artist and my first set of "serious grown-up albums".

In the front room area, we had our bowl of Jiffy Pop, our pitcher of grape koolaid and we put on the toons and sang and danced. Stand out tracks included: Island Girl, Crocodile Rock, Bennie and the Jets, and Honkey Cat.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Finger Lickin' Good

KFC, Hobby House, Pancake House

Alright. Here's a new postcard for you. On the back it says, "5 Locations, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Specializing in Col. Sander's Kentucky Fried Chicken - Mac's Famous Barbecue and Original Pancakes.

Color photo is by Virgil V. Marquart (my Fort Wayne, pop-culture historian, RIP)

It was mailed to someone on May 31, 1965.

SO - where were these restaurants located at?

You can click on the picture - which will take you to flickr and you can look at the postcard in even more detailed (about 4 times the size you see here).

Is that center picture the KFC that was on Bluffton Road???

And whatever happened to the Hobby House?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Postcard of Aerial View of Downtown Fort Wayne, Ind.

As many of you know, I've been collecting postcards of Fort Wayne for quite some time.

Some of my very favorite postcards are those that are "aerial" in nature. I think it's interesting to see how much Fort Wayne has changed over time.

This particular postcard that I've posted today, is a very vibrant, non-photograph aerial view of Fort Wayne.

If you're up to the challenge - I'd like you to go out to flickr (where I scanned in the original) and tag with notes - what each one of these buildings are or were. You can just click through to flickr from the picture.

So for instance - I put a note on the Lincoln National Bank building and one on the Allen County Court House. (Add a note is near the top of the screen in flickr).

You'll need to register (at flickr) in order to contribute - registration is free.

And thanks for helping me to figure out what all of these buildings are / were!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mayor Tom Henry and His Wife Met at Scott's Decatur Road

Interior of Eavey's Market - 1957Here's yet another photo from LIFE MAGAZINE's story on the famous Eavey's Market.

As you all know, Don Scott recently passed away. I had left a message on his guestbook and Cheryl Scott (his daughter), replied to me this weekend, thanking me for my kind words.

She told me that she had heard that Decatur Road was closing and that it was good that her dad had died not knowing about it. I'm sure those of you that know the history of Scott's understand how much that particular location meant to Mr. Scott.

I haven't connected all of the dots together, but I do know that at some point, Mr. Eavey was ready to get out of the business (I assume retiring???) and someone else took over the Decatur Road location. Articles I have read said that Don Scott came in later and took it off the hands of whomever had it because it was "fledgling" and because he saw opportunity written all over the location.

Now, I'm a bit younger than some of my readers here :) so I don't remember the things like the coffee grinder or the swimming pool. But I'll tell you what I do remember.

As a little girl, I remember walking under the grand arches of the store, feeling like I was walking in to an adventure! I remember the smells - I remember the enormous amounts of fresh produce (I even told my grandma one day that Scott's must have the largest garden ever!)

I remember the big red slide that was adjacent to the property. We used to take our burlap sacks and ride down that slide - faster than cars on I27 - I was sure of it!

One of the comments left on my blog talked about the potential for a "missed" opportunity. Read it here.

"Back in those days, Fort Wayne could do big things because there were individuals who had vision who didn't think about limitations. Back then, people honestly believed that Fort Wayne could be a world class city, no matter what side of town you were talking about."

Let me tell you - that captures a huge slice of why I have such great love for Fort Wayne. I cannot even tell you the number of folks who were always confused when I told them that Fort Wayne wasn't about the big chains (grocery or restaurants). People would look at me - confused. And it's the second biggest city in the State? Yep, isn't that neat (I would say).

Unfortunately, I can't get one designated leader (elected or otherwise), to give me the time of day. Maybe they're afraid of offending Kroger's because Kroger is keeping folks employed in this horrible economy....

Who knows the reason why. I guess I need to go to Plan B.

Incidentally, that nugget about Mayor Tom Henry - that came from Cheryl Scott in her latest email to me today. I'm sure that there's more behind the story - oh Mr. Mayor - where are you???

P.S. Did you know that the Decatur Road location is already pulling things out even though the closing isn't for another three weeks? Read about it here

Friday, January 23, 2009

No Response Yet From Fort Wayne Leaders - Re: Scott's Decatur Road

Photo Courtesy of Clay Blackburn

(I like this particular view of the cornucopia because it shows the "bones" of the structure. Although the external appearance has been changed, the bones of the structure are from the original store built in 1956.)

Just wanted to let folks know that I wrote to Councilman Glynn Hines, Southeast neighborhood association leader Bill Crowley, and the City of Fort Wayne's Southeast Area Advocate - Chreise Dixie. No response back yet from any of them.

Maybe today!

In case you missed it, the News-Sentinel wrote up a nice blurb on our concerns.

Also, SuperValu purchased Scott's (originally - before Kroger's) and they were the ones responsible for altering the original sign. If anyone has any contacts at SuperValu they can forward to me so that I can talk to them - that would be awesome. Or - I think Rick Bender? used to be the store manager there for several years....his contact info would be great also!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Update On The Cornucopia (New Information - 4:30 est)

Wanted to add another shot of Eavey's from the Life Magazine Image Collection.

Also, I spoke with John Elliott - the media spokesperson from Kroger. If any of you would like to contact him, he is open to it - his email address is and the number he can be reached is 317-538-1495.

This appeared in today's Journal Gazette:

Scott’s cornucopia unlikely to be saved

"A local landmark is expected to be lost when the Scott’s Food & Pharmacy at 5300 Decatur Road closes Feb. 14.

The large cornucopia adorning the front of the building is anchored with steel that extends from the top of the horn into the foundation, Kroger Co. spokesman John Elliott said.

Elliott didn’t know of any plans to preserve the sign. And he expressed doubts it could be saved without destroying part of the building."

So here's the good news. The Journal Gazette took some liberties with its reporting and certainly, with its headline.

I spoke to John Elliott for approximately 15 minutes. He was very open, polite, and gracious. The question he was asked by the Journal Gazette was - would Kroger pay to move the cornucopia to another place.

Kind of a different question than what I was asking.

I asked him - is there any possible way - we can save the cornucopia? I explained to John (me - a complete stranger) that this cornucopia was an iconic symbol to the citizens of Fort Wayne. I probably blathered on for a good 5 minutes, explaining the emotional attachment to it and my gosh - the man listened to me.

He not only listened - he gave me feedback that he - and Kroger - were certainly open to a dialog with us (us being those emotionally attached to our cornucopia).

He did go into some explanation regarding why they were closing the Decatur Road store versus the Kroger located across the way.

A couple of items (and I am paraphrasing)

1) That area of the city has not been generally supportive of the store. Sales are very poor.

2) The Kroger across the way is located in a shopping center which gives the place more foot traffic.

3) The closest Kroger had been recently remodeled and one of the deciding factors in closing Decatur Road, was a combination of its declining sales and the price to have to remodel.

John said he was going to check in to see what the status was of the real estate situation. He was optimistic and said someone from Fort Wayne could always come along and purchase the place. And you know - he's completely right. He also said that a new owner wouldn't necessarily NOT preserve it. I wanted to bring up Southtown Mall to him but then I didn't want to burden him with Fort Wayne's issues.

SO - I'm passing this all off to my buddy Stephen Parker - and between the two of us - and anyone that is willing to jump in and help - we want to figure out how to save a piece of Fort Wayne history. By the way, ARCH remains silent and passive on the situation which pisses me off. Send them some of your love, k?

The elected representative for the district where the Decatur Road Scott's is located is Councilman Glynn A. Hines. He can be reached here - 260-447-7144 or


Update (4:31 p.m. est)

I would like to formally apologize to Angie Quinn from ARCH. After I emailed her my blog posting, she responded very quickly. She indicated that Stephen Parker and I were the only ones to reach out to ARCH - there was no contact from the local, traditional media outlets.

Here's her response.

Here is ARCH's response:

Since the Eavey's grocery store opening on July, 31, 1956, the Eavey/Scotts Cornucopia sign has been a beloved and familiar landmark on Fort Wayne's south side. Although it is not the original sign—the sign and lighting were completely replaced in 1992, but the support structure is original—the sign is a significant local landmark. As one of the last of the grand "spectacular" signs of the 1950s, the cornucopia stands 70 feet tall, and formerly was made of porcelain coated steel, with neon lights outlining each fruit and vegetable. In 1992, the sign was replaced with a new metal sign, which did not include new neon outlining the produce. As a community landmark, however, the changes are almost imperceptible, and the sign is every bit as loved now as it was loved in 1992.

However, the removal of the original materials may make preservation efforts difficult. Most funding sources for historic preservation projects require that the building/site/structure be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We're in the process now of getting a determination of whether the sign is eligible, since the sign materials are not original, and are not yet 50 years old—the usual criteria for inclusion on the register.

We've also begun investigating whether the sign could be protected through the Fort Wayne Local Historic Preservation Ordinance, which allows property owners to have a special designation—much like a special zoning—that will require that the city's Historic Preservation Commission review all visible changes to the exterior of a protected resource. As a sign, all of the cornucopia would be subject to review. The main problems with this avenue are that, 1) the owner needs to initiate the designation; and 2) the ordinance marks a specific piece of real estate, and not the historic resource itself. So, in this case, it would involve making the entire Scotts parcel a local historic district. Unfortunately, the store itself has been remodeled so many times it is not architecturally significant at all.

IF the owner would donate the sign, and IF a location for the sign were located, and IF funds were found to pay for its removal and replacement, then it is possible to have the sign protected. As a piece of public art [which it most definitely is] it might then be eligible for Local Historic District protection. Otherwise, we will need to hope that the next owner of the store chooses to keep the sign, as Eavey's, Scotts, Super Value, and Kroger did while running their grocery store operations in the building.

One other option to consider, should the above fail, is donating the sign to one of the national sign museums (there's one in Cincinnati) or to a local entity like NATMUS in Auburn, which has collected other local retail signs of the 1950s (though I do not think they have the space).

The ARCH Preservation Committee will discuss the sign, and may propose further action at its meeting later this month. I'll be happy to keep you up to date, and I would be happy to speak to a group of concerned citizens about the sign, if there is interest.

I'll also upload this to our blog:, to see if other interested folks contact ARCH about the sign.

On a personal note: as a child of the south side, myself, the cornucopia has been a most important landmark my entire life. I was in the marching band at Bishop Luers (when they still had one) from 1978-1982, and every practice was timed to the big neon clock on the west side of the store, easily seen from Luer's football field across the highway. The clock is gone now, too.


YES! A South Sider! Yay for us. Please - everyone - pass the word - tell your friends - your relatives - have them make noise - have them contact ARCH, Glynn Hines, and the local media. We actually have a chance here to make a difference!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

End of an Era - Scott's on Decatur Road

Eavey Market - 1957

Dear Kroger,

I had several folks email me today to tell me about your decision to close the Decatur Road Scott's Grocery Store. I was stunned. Speechless. I was so distraught about it, that I actually called my husband up and ranted at him on the phone.

Although he has absolutely no attachment to the South Side of Fort Wayne (like I do – he’s a North Side’r), he understands why I’m upset about this decision.

You see....back in 1956, a man named Henry J. Eavey had a dream. He wanted to build the country's largest single-room grocery store and he wanted to do it in Fort Wayne. On a location just across from U.S. Highway 27, an 80,760 square foot supermarket was erected.

How cool was that?

But it got even cooler than that.

He wanted his store to be seen from miles away and what better way to do that than with an iconic symbol - a food-filled cornucopia.

And when Don Scott bought Eavey's in the late 60's, he understood that this iconic symbol was a part of the attraction of what made the Decatur Road location, a neat place to shop. He had it cleaned up a bit, switching the names out (of course).

As a little girl who grew up on the South Side of Fort Wayne, driving by the Decatur Road Scott's was fascinating. For the longest time, I thought the cornucopia was a dragon (you know - like Puff the Magic Dragon). It would be many years before my grandma would break it to me - Krissie, they call that a know - like a horn of plenty?

Yea - okay - I guess so. If I turned my head a certain way , I could see that BUT I still thought that Puff the Magic Dragon was a much neater explanation.

Kroger - did you know that about a decade later - that cornucopia was battered by storms (and possibly a tornado?) that made its way through Fort Wayne? Yep. And you know, Don Scott, he could have said to himself - heck - that thing is just a nuisance. It's comin' down permanently. But you see, he didn't. Why? I'm assuming it's because he knew that that darn cornucopia is a big darn deal to us Fort Wayne folks.


It's like - you don't mess with Coney Island - you don't jack with Powers - and you certainly don't screw with the cornucopia.

So now, you're closing Decatur Road Scott's and I'm sitting here in my little ole house in Fishers, Indiana, fretting about the future of the cornucopia. I kid you not. If you destroy one of the most iconic symbol's of Fort Wayne, I don't think that I will ever forgive you.

If you allow a place like The Dollar General Store to move into that building and bastardize my cornucopia, you will break my heart into a trillion pieces.


If you destroy the cornucopia because you lack an understanding of its importance to us, you will break my heart into a trillion pieces.


So please respond and let me know what your plan is for our beloved Fort Wayne piece of history. If I have to go out and raise funds to save it - I will. If I have to stage a roof sit-in - I will.

Please do not take away/destroy another piece of my childhood.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Confessing My Sins

At some point in time (1974?), my mother enrolled me and my sister PJ in CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes at St. Therese. They were held every Wednesday evening and at one point in time, they almost cut into my favorite new show – Happy Days.

Selsa Couch also enrolled Ericka in CCD and between the two of them, they coordinated the pick up and drop off of the three of us to the classes.

During second grade, Ericka and I went through some special preparation which led up to two events – First Communion (and more on this later) and The Sacrament of Penance. I was puzzled by the latter. The idea was to confess our sins and to be freed from them while at the same time, seeking mercy and forgiveness from God. There were categories of sins and ways in which people showed that they were sorry for them.

My very first time was a bit scary and intimidating. In the multi-purpose room (in the St. Therese school/church building), they set up the confessional – um – I guess box? It was dark brown – one side was where the priest sat – cloaked in privacy and the other side was where the confessor sat. In between us was a wooden, sliding window. It was to be pulled open when the confessor was ready to begin.

I thought long and hard about what to confess and amazingly – I had to really stretch the “bad” things because I truly was a good kid. Seriously!

I remember telling Father Frank that I had been mean to my sister Patty (I left out the part that she provoked me – the little brat that she was), I thought mean things about my mom and dad, and I had told 2 lies to friends (okay – those were white lies because Colleen Wooden had asked me if I liked the way she cut her Barbie’s hair and I said sure – I didn’t want to hurt her feelings).

Ericka went right before me so when I was finished, I joined her in the church, with my rosary to say the prayers assigned to me (10 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Mary’s). Although we were being watched closely by our CCD teachers, we compared our punishment through a pre-designated sign language system. Fancy that we both received the same number of prayers!

After it was all over, and we were waiting for Selsa to pick us up, Ericka dropped the bombshell on me that she would probably be moving at the end of the school year. It seems that her dad Larry was moving up in the world so they were going to move into a big ole house far away from me.

I was stunned and said nothing.

As we were running down the sidewalk to meet her mom’s car, I tripped and fell, cutting up my calf and knee pretty badly. I accused Ericka of tripping me and truth be told – I’m not sure if she did (accidentally) or if my clumsy self with my big feet, tripped over something like an indentation in the pavement. We were horsing around as we were running so either could have been the case. I sobbed – almost hysterically. Sure, there was lots of blood and crappy gravel-ish stuff in my knee but looking back, I think the tears were really about me losing my best friend. She had been my “constant” for three years. I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. But I never told anybody that (until now).

The next day, Ericka came over to my house and delivered to me a "get well" plant along with a handwritten note about how sorry she was for tripping me. I couldn’t even look at her. While looking at the ground, I accepted her gift and then went back to the dinner table to eat.

My mom was impressed with Ericka’s gesture. I kept silent during the entire meal. Everything tasted like paper but I knew that if I didn’t eat, it would draw attention to myself and I would be subjected to questioning. I ate. Kept quiet and took the pain to bed with me.

Me and Ericka never talked about the accidental tripping situation again nor did we have any discussions about the move. When we were together, we just didn’t talk about that. Selsa would give my mom details and my mom would mention things to me. But me and Ericka – nope – we never talked about her moving.

And it happened. She moved to a big ole fancy house on Hadley Road. And another chapter in our relationship began.