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  • 6/14/2018 We often think of past eras as being more innocent than the times in which we live, but that’s just not true. Times change; basic human nature doesn’t.

    For example, 123 years ago this week the small village of Fisher’s Switch (Yes, SMALL— Fishers had fewer than 200 residents then!) made news around the country when the local postmaster, A. W. (Albert) Trittipo, nearly became the victim of an “infernal machine.”

    (The term, “infernal machine,” came into common use during the late 1800s to describe bombs and other death-dealing devices used for political assassinations and general terrorism).

    On June 13, 1895 Trittipo received a package through the mail marked “These are samples.” Since he operated a general store in addition to his postal duties, he naturally assumed some company had sent him samples of their product for advertisement purposes.

    Paying no heed to the other message on the package which indicated one particular end was to be opened, he absently tore into the box at the wrong end. That likely saved his life.
  • 6/7/2018 Noblesville’s Forest Park has been a source of happy memories for people all over this part of the state ever since it opened in 1926. Chances are, if you’re a Baby Boomer, some of those happy memories involve the kiddie rides which were once located near the Forest Park Inn.

    When the rides first appeared in 1951, they were run by a Mr. and Mrs. Cole of Peru, Indiana. 

    It was a heck of a commute for the Coles, let alone for the ponies of their pony ride, so each night when the park closed, they would load up the ponies and take them to a field they rented on a farm owned by Orval and Jean Crask.

    After seven years, the Coles decided they’d had enough and they sold the kiddie ride concession, lock stock, and barrel, to the Crasks, who operated the rides from 1958 to around 1970.
  • 5/31/2018 I love all animals, but I have a special spot in my heart for cats. That’s why I want to point out that June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month.

    If you’ve been thinking of acquiring a new furry friend, now is a great time to do it. This is the height of kitten season, which means shelters and rescue organizations everywhere are overrun with cats and kittens needing good homes.

    For anyone sitting on the fence about adopting a new furry companion, let me toss out a few possible perks of living with a cat that you might not have considered, little fringe benefits my new kittens, Oliver and Beau, have taught me.

    First, you might not need an alarm clock anymore.
  • 5/24/2018 Having spent my entire life in the Indianapolis area, I was aware race car driver Wilbur Shaw was a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 (1937, ’39 and ’40, to be specific). 

    I didn’t realize until recently, however, that he’d been a Hamilton County resident. Nor had I fully appreciated just how important he was to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Without Shaw, there might never have been another Indianapolis 500 after World War II.

    During the war, the race was suspended and the track abandoned.

    Shaw was hired by Firestone then to help develop a new synthetic rubber tire. When he came to Indianapolis in late 1944 to test the tire, he was appalled to discover the track had become a weed-choked jungle.
  • 5/18/2018 Time to clear out the old “mailbag” again!

    I’m happy to note that Sid Davis, who grew up in the Hazel Dell area, agreed with me on the location of Brompton. He even added a few details.

    According to Sid, Brompton was located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Hazel Dell Road and the Midland Railroad, and Brompton’s store sat right beside the railroad, facing east.

    Remember Larry Roach’s quest to find out more about the “medallion” that commemorated American National Bank’s 50th anniversary?

    Dottie (Zeiss) Young said it was really a key chain. She has one herself from the 50th anniversary, as well as one from the bank’s 75th anniversary.

    That makes a lot of sense because Larry had mentioned that the medallion was numbered, had a loop for a chain and was marked “postage guaranteed” on the back. My understanding is, you could register the number of your key chain with the bank and if you ever lost your keys, they’d see to it they were returned to you. (Talk about service).
  • 5/10/2018 A few weeks ago, former Westfield resident Larry Cloud brought up something called “Hat Day,” which he said used to take place each spring in the 1950s. 

    This was new to me, so I did some digging and discovered that technically it was known as “Straw Hat Day.” It was the day men were supposed to put aside the warm felt hats they’d worn during the cold winter months and start wearing straw hats instead.

    The day was observed all over the country during the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, although the exact date varied with the location and sometimes changed slightly over the years.

    Around here, Straw Hat Day seems to have always taken place on May 15. There was an unwritten rule that straw hats shouldn’t be worn before that date, although occasionally when the weather turned warm a little early, a few brave souls would defy tradition.
  • 5/3/2018 If you thought stories in the old newspapers couldn’t get any stranger than some of the Twilight Club’s minutes, guess again. According to the May 25, 1897, Hamilton County Ledger, 121 years ago this month a UFO flew over Noblesville!

    If the newspaper is to be believed, around 8 p.m. on May 24, Noblesville was visited by the “mysterious machine known as the airship.” It initially appeared as a faint light in the eastern sky, but rapidly moved west, accompanied by a strange noise.

    Judge-elect John F. Neal and druggist Frank E. Ross were the first people to spot it. They immediately hotfooted it over to Charlie Pike’s photography studio and got Pike to set up his camera on the southeast corner of the square to capture the phenomenon as it went by.

    Less than 10 minutes later, the airship flew over the courthouse and Pike supposedly got his shot, which he passed on to the Ledger. However, in those days photos hadn’t yet begun to appear in newspapers, so what actually ran on the Ledger’s front page was a drawing.
  • 4/26/2018 Remember Noblesville’s American National Bank? 

    Larry Roach recently emailed the Times hoping to learn more about a medallion his wife found, which commemorated American National’s 50th anniversary in 1960.

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to uncover anything in the old newspapers specifically about the medallion, but the bank’s Golden Anniversary celebration was pretty interesting itself. It reminded me how banks used to be truly local institutions.

    First, a little history to put things into context . . . 

    The American National Bank was founded in 1910. Originally located on the north side of the courthouse square, it moved into the former First National Bank building on the northeast corner of Logan and North Ninth Streets on Sept. 14, 1928. 
  • 4/20/2018 I’ve seen some odd things in the old newspapers, but I’ve never encountered anything quite like the minutes of the Federal Hill Twilight Club.

    When I initially stumbled across the club, I couldn’t tell if it was real or if my leg was being pulled, so I poked around the internet and discovered there were actually several “Twilight Clubs” around the country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    The first of these was established in New York City in the early 1880s as a social/dinner club where a wide variety of topics were discussed. Basically, any subject matter was fair game.

    The other clubs seem to have been modeled after that one, but apparently had no connection to it, or to each other.

    To be honest, I’m still not 100 percent sure the Federal Hill Twilight Club was a real organization. However, I did find other references to it besides their minutes, like an item in a 1903 Hamilton County Ledger, which noted the group had acquired new quarters over a cigar store on the square and had made plans to incorporate.

    If this organization did indeed exist, it certainly took the idea of intellectual discussion to a whole different level, though.
  • 4/13/2018 After writing a bit about Moontown last week, I decided to see if I could find more on Hazel Dell’s history, too.

    It appears that, unlike Moontown, there’s never been much to Hazel Dell. In 1887, the Ledger described it as consisting of “two churches (Wesleyan and Christian,) one school house and the surrounding community.”

    That seems to have been the case pretty much throughout its whole existence.

    Interestingly, from the late 1870s through the first two decades of the 20th century, Hazel Dell had a neighbor less than a mile to the north, the little community of Brompton.

    Brompton was three miles west of Noblesville on the Midland Railroad. That puts it on Hazel Dell Road, just a hair south of today’s State Road 32.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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