Craycraft’s, Penney’s, Kirk’s and Stringtown

Boy, am I late with a reader column this time! I had to go all the way back to February to catch up.

Remember when I wrote about the Craycraft’s Dry Goods Company?

Pam Ferber had clearer memories of the water fountain in Craycraft’s than I did. She described it as a white bubbler fountain at the bottom of the stairs. She thought the stairway was in the middle of the store.

That’s the way I remember it, too, but unfortunately, I haven’t run across any interior photos of the store to confirm that.

Pam added that, although she got most of her shoes from her grandfather who sold shoes at an Elwood department store, she always got her Keds from Craycraft’s.

I’ve been wearing leather athletic shoes for so long, I’d forgotten about Keds and how big those canvas shoes were when I was little. You weren’t cool back then unless you wore Keds. (From what I see on the internet, Keds are cool again.)

Larry Cloud remembered Kirk’s rolling ladders and “drawers/shelves that seemed miles high to this little boy,” but he was more impressed with the “overhead cable/ trolley system” at the J. C. Penney store on the east side of the square.

Penney’s aerial trolley transported sales slips and cash to and from the balcony at the rear of the salesroom. My memory of that is pretty hazy, but I think it was similar to the pulley system still used at Stout’s Shoes in Indianapolis.

Speaking of Kirk’s, when I was working on that column, I asked Nancy Massey if she could find more information about the break-in that took place at the hardware store in 1981.

The article she came up with was so interesting, I think it’s worth a mention here.

The three burglars got into Kirk’s by first breaking into the Mental Health Association of Hamilton County office, which was over the Sears store next door to Kirk’s. They then crossed over to the United Auto Workers Local 1571 over Kirk’s, chopped a hole in the floor and dropped into Kirk’s through the hardware store’s ceiling.

Luckily, someone alerted the police to what was going down. Eight detectives were waiting for the thieves when they exited the building.

Burglar #1 got away, but was caught a week later. Burglar #2 was tackled in front of Deering Cleaners, which was, if I remember correctly, three or four doors west of Kirk’s.

Burglar #3 got as far as Syd’s, then he made the mistake of glancing over his shoulder to check on his pursuers. He ran into a parked car, executed a couple of flips in the air and ended up doing about $200 worth of damage to the car. (Nothing was mentioned in the article about what he might have done to himself.)

Meanwhile back at Kirk’s, the quarter-inch steel door on the store’s 4-foot floor safe had been “peeled off.” Damages there ran to the tune of $4,000.

(Note to anyone contemplating future criminal activity at that location — Kirk’s last owner, Bill Prater, told me they fixed it so nobody would ever be dropping into the store like that again.)

My Anonymous Friend remembered that the old Stringtown schoolhouse on Hague Road was still around during our grade school days. (That road is only “Stringtown Pike” north of 216th Street.)

Although the brick structure was falling apart then, it was still recognizable as a school. At that time, it was located on a small farm. Today, Noblesville West Middle School sits on that property.

Dartown Road remains a mystery . . .  but, I said the same thing about Llewellyn Spring years ago and that puzzle eventually was solved, so I have hope.

– Paula Dunn’s From Time to Thyme column appears on Wednesdays in The Times. Contact her at [email protected]