From Time to Thyme

By Paula Dunn

Memorial Day, 1963

With the Powers That Be seemingly intent on replacing most of the Noblesville I knew when I was growing up here in the 1960s and ‘70s, I’ve been feeling more than a little nostalgic lately.

As a result, I decided this week to rev up the old time machine and go back to Memorial Day, 1963 — a time when Noblesville was more Mayberry than Metropolis.

Let me set the stage for you . . .

To get ready for holiday cookouts, the A&P was selling 20 pounds of charcoal briquets for 99 cents and ground beef for 49 cents a pound. A pound of Stark & Wetzel (remember them?) wieners also went for 49 cents at Chew’s Regal Market on the courthouse square.

If you needed a way to cook that meat, a 24’’ steel bowl grill could be had from Murphy’s dime store for $9.99.

Western Auto advertised coolers ($1.98,) insulated picnic bags ($1.59) and picnic jugs ($1.98-$6.95,) while Hook’s drug store ads featured items like Coppertone suntan lotion ($1.39,) polarizing sunglasses ($1.98 and up,) and aluminum lawn chairs. ($4.48 for adults’ chairs. Kids’ chairs were $2.69.)

(Have the prices made you sick yet? I’m feeling a little queasy myself.)

As usual, the Indianapolis 500 was a prominent feature of the holiday. Race fans traveling through Noblesville couldn’t help but notice the large “Indianapolis 500 Mile Race May 30” banner suspended over South 10th Street.

(Back then, Memorial Day was always celebrated on May 30, and the race was always on Memorial Day.)

In keeping with the race theme, Eagles Lodge No. 450 sponsored a pre-race dance May 29) with music by the Astronauts. If you weren’t into dancing, you could see “The Young Racers,” a motion picture about Grand Prix racing playing at the Diana.

Noblesville had an additional tie to the 500 that year — hometown girl Vicky Richardson was a 500 Festival princess.

Of course, the main reason for the holiday was to honor members of the military who died defending our country.

Commemorative services took place at Westfield, Arcadia and Cicero on Sunday, May 26, and at Noblesville on Memorial Day. Sheridan, Carmel, Delaware Township, and Atlanta also held ceremonies.

In Cicero, American Legion Post 341, the Jackson Central High School Band and other community units marched to the Cicero Cemetery, with a pause at the Morse Reservoir bridge for a special naval ceremony. State Representative Bill Howard delivered the Memorial address.

Later that day, those same units marched in Arcadia’s parade, which was sponsored by the Arcadia American Legion Post 344.

Westfield’s American Legion Post 318 held services at Summit Lawn Cemetery with an invocation, a speech, and a salute by a color guard and firing squad. The Westfield High School band provided music.

A program at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens featured the Eastwood Junior High School band, the Fishers American Legion Color Guard and an address by Noblesville’s Preston G. Woolf, an expert on international affairs.

Noblesville’s observance began at 8:30 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.

That was followed by a parade which included American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars drill units, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, members of the Noblesville Boys Club, the Noblesville High School band, the Vaquero Drum and Baton Corps, National Guard vehicles and saddle horses.

From the square, the marchers headed to Riverside Cemetery for an invocation and a short address by local ministers. After a band presentation and a volley from the American Legion unit’s guns, the parade broke up, only to reform a little later and repeat the program at Crownland Cemetery.

Notable Nineties Update: Mary Waltz has added three more Notable Nineties to the list: Joyce Menefee, Jay Curnutt and Barbara Cartwright. Congratulations!

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