Tag Archives: Indianapolis

Naptown Nostalgia: “A Major Malfunction”

Challenger     I could hear the phone ringing in the kitchen before I turned my key inside the back door lock. I had heard the news already during lunchtime at Little Flower Catholic School that day. My eighth grade science teacher, Mrs. Frey, was crying because she had actually applied for the program and was devastated by the outcome. My friends were stunned as if such a thing could not have happened. Someone wheeled in the television we kept on the library AV cart and we watched in horror replay after replay of what occurred just after liftoff on January 28, 1986.

“Yeah, hello?” I said breathlessly, after dropping my book bag on the floor and diving for the receiver.

To this day, I don’t know why I bothered with the standard telephone greeting. Every molecule in my body knew who was on the other end of the line. Though we were still a decade away from Caller ID, I could have addressed him by name. He had a connection to NASA that was encoded in his DNA. He was an armchair astronaut who followed the Mercury and Gemini missions like a groupie. He built a model of the Apollo 11 rocket and gantry that was easily three foot tall. He had a map of the moon framed neatly on the basement wall and more books on the space program than anyone could possibly need.

Just five years before, he had taken the day off from work to watch the first Space Shuttle rise to the final frontier from its launch pad at Cape Kennedy. He had carried a small boxy TV into work in order to bear witness to several subsequent missions. He helped me build a model of it (complete with extendable space lab) but now…the unthinkable had occurred and it was killing him to be cut off from his connection. He knew what time I would be home and he would have let the phone ring until I picked up.

“Is it true?” He asked.

After being strong for three long hours, my voice broke. “Dad, something happened at NASA…”

“Turn on the TV.” He commanded.

I put the phone down and went into the living room to warm up the set. This was back in the days when cable was limited to 41 channels, the folks at CNN didn’t blather on about nothing and it actually took a minute for the screen to come up. All of the major networks were covering the tragedy.

“OK, I have it on,” I reported.

Over the next several minutes, I tried to relay what the geniuses in charge down in Florida or Houston – I’m not sure which – had to say. But my father wasn’t content to hear me paraphrase a press conference. He had me extend the rather long curly cue phone cord to the TV set (about 10 feet, mind you and as far as it could go) and hold the receiver up to the speaker so he could take in the words first hand.

“Are they sure?” My dad asked after hearing someone say there were no survivors.

He hadn’t seen the footage yet, so there was no way he could understand the improbability of such a miracle. Still, I was amazed at the way he held out hope. Even at the age of 13, I grasped the idea that this would be the “Where were you when?” moment of my young life. It was the beginning of the end of my innocence. It would be the last time I would be sure about anything.

“Dad, there’s just no way,” I explained. “It just kind of…blew up….and broke apart.”

After our conversation, we never really talked about the Challenger. He was glued to the news for the rest of the night (a habit I must have inherited from him, because I tend to do the same thing whenever something big occurs) but I always knew how deeply it affected him.

Eleven years later, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, we were watching the movie Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks. As I stared in amazement at the way NASA pulled off a moment of triumph in what could have been their biggest failure, my father turned to me and said, “That’s why I wasn’t sure. I thought NASA could do anything.”

There was no explanation for his statement, no context, and it was never mentioned again, but I knew what he meant. It was an unspoken understanding that transcended time and space. Even today, when I see images of the crew or wreckage, I break into tears. Not only because of the incident itself, but because it is a moment I shared with the man I loved more than anything else in this world. Whenever I revisit that moment that is now three decades old,  I become that 13-year-old standing in a living room trying to make sense of a “major malfunction” to her father in which seven people “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Naptown Nostagia: The Eastwood Theater took us to that galaxy far, far away

NOTE: This is a reprint of my article that appeared in the October 2011 edition of Indianapolis Senior Life. My thanks to Mr. Dave Battas for sharing his story of how he secured Star Wars for the Indianapolis market. We are forever grateful. 

Eastwood

This original artist rendering shows the Eastwood Theater as it was conceived in the late 1960’s as an 800-seat one screen auditorium. The movie house opened in September of 1968 with the comedy “Prudence and the Pill” followed by “Funny Girl”

The Eastwood Theater sat adjacent to the old Ayr-Way anchored shopping center along Pendleton Pike and was known for its curved-screen, free popcorn refills and having the best sound system in the city.

“I saw Tommy there,” said Robert Baker.

The Eastwood was owned by Y&W management Company which owned a number of indoor and outdoor theaters around Central Indiana and when they decided to open their new “road house’ theater on the east side, they asked Dave Battas to book the movies, manage and market the place.

“We opened the Eastwood on September 10, 1968 with Prudence and the Pill with Funny Girl following soon afterward,” he said.

The Eastwood offered their audiences reserved seating and advanced ticket sales of their limited engagement runs such as Paint Your Wagon and boasted uniformed usherettes who showed folks to their seats before the theater later segued to book traditional releases in the 1970’s.

Originally the theater had a flat screen but due to the number of films shot in Cinerama, a curved screen was installed in 1973 and never replaced. Battas booked several celebrity appearances at the Eastwood and took a lot of pride in the theater. After noticing a patron writing on the wall after a showing of Woodstock, Battas attached white paper to plywood boards and encouraged people to leave their mark as they left.

An old Fashioned "Grape Stomp" was organized in the Eastwood's lobby for "The Secret of Santa Vittoria" starring Anthony Quinn. Former Eastwood manager Dave Battas said he was always trying to find special events to tie-in with the pictures in order to draw crowds.

An old Fashioned “Grape Stomp” was organized in the Eastwood’s lobby for “The Secret of Santa Vittoria” starring Anthony Quinn. 

“There were a lot of names, dates, poems and peace symbols,” he said. “I hung those sheets all over the lobby.”

Though The Eastwood was known for a variety of movie offerings, the one that stands out for most movie goers is was the film Battas acquired in October of 1976. A 20th Century Fox representative asked Battas to consider a run of a new science fiction picture that was to be released the following summer. It was a tough sell. The film was made in England on a closed set. The principle actors were unknowns and the director was unproven.

“The working title is called Star Wars,” the representative said, promising Battas a selection of drive-in films if he took the little sci-fi odyssey, agreed to a $50,000 advance and installed a state-of-the-art Dolby sound system.

“We were the perfect theater for the picture because it was shot in 70mm and we had one of the few 70mm projectors in the area,” Battas said, explaining how he scored the exclusive run of a movie that went on to shatter box office records. “I didn’t even see the film until two days before it opened,” said Battas. “When I saw that opening sequence, I laughed because I knew it was going to be big.”

The film the Eastwood was notorious for was the initial run of "Star Wars" in 1977. This marquee shows that the movie was well-received enough to play at the Eastwood for a solid year.

The film the Eastwood was notorious for was the initial run of “Star Wars” in 1977. This marquee shows that the movie was well-received enough to play at the Eastwood for a solid year.

Star Wars proved to be bigger than big, filling the 800-seat theater to capacity at each of the five daily showings. Lines for the movie stretched into the parking lot and past a nearby Dairy Queen which also benefitted from the engagement.

“I guess people were buying ice cream like crazy while they waited,” he said. “To this day, it remains the movie for which the theater is best known.”

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Eastwood became the place to see movies known for their special effects and sound quality such as Grease, Annie and Cocoon, but as multiplexes became more common it was harder for single screen movie houses to compete.

“When you are only showing one film for eight to 12 weeks, you can’t make a mistake in booking,” Battas said. “Multiplexes have an economic advantage.”

The theater eventually segued from movies to a live concert venue before closing altogether in the early 1990’s. Today only two walls of the facility remain as part of the Menards lumber yard but for those who first heard about a Pinball Wizard, learned that Grease was the word or caught sight of that galaxy far, far away, the memories of the Eastwood live on as a treasured piece of the city’s cinematic history.

 

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Glo Column July: The Greatest Investment

book     A few years ago, I was on tour with my first book when I was asked to speak at a small parochial grade school just south of Indianapolis. The audience was a group of junior high students who were thrilled to learn that I was not some 80-year-old, gray-haired nun waxing poetic about some long dead saint from Terre Haute, but I could also speak fluent Classic Rock as well.

After a half-hour chat about the book and answering questions about what it was like to be a “real” author, a boy near the back raised his hand. I expected him to ask one of the typical questions I usually receive at this type of thing such as: “Have you written anything else?” “Who were your favorite authors as a kid?” “Are you famous?” or maybe, “What is your favorite Zeppelin song?” but instead he surprised me by asking, “What was the most important lesson you learned in college?”

It was an inquiry that put me back on my heels for a minute. My first instinct was to talk about my craft and how my education helped me improve my writing style or balance my life with the demands of academia (keep in mind I was 30 before I pursued a college degree,) but something in the back of my mind told me he needed something more…profound. In that moment, I decided to shoot from the hip and give it to him straight and this month, instead of my usual humor, I’ve decided to share that answer with you, dedicating it to every reader who is going back to school this semester, or contemplating an education in the near future:

The most important lesson I learned in college is that a college education is a venture in the only sure thing there really is in life…you. Let’s face it; there really are no guarantees. None of the major milestones we achieve are a one-sided proposition. We may grow up, learn to drive and buy that first car, but it will break down, may be involved in an accident and will ultimately need to be replaced. You will get jobs and you will lose jobs. You will buy a house only to have to replace the roof, furnace or call in a plumber on a Sunday morning for an outrageous fee. Some of you will get married but unfortunately, statistics say approximately 50 percent of you will end up divorced and I promise you your children will not do everything you expect them to so the only thing you can control in life is you and that begins with your college education.

You see a college education isn’t just more of the same old grind. It’s the time in which you see how everything fits together. Until now, you have been immersed in theory, but college is all about practical application and gaining experience in those areas that you are passionate about. If you are like me, you may have asked, “When am I ever going to use…?” but I assure you, there was not one class I took in college that I did not use in the real world. (Aside from Algebra, of course.) College helped open my eyes to the world in a whole new way, made me a well-rounded, confident lifelong learner and gave me a transferrable skill set that will help me land on my feet no matter how rough the road gets.

But it only works if you devote yourself to it, remain committed and have the right attitude, because you are the only sure thing you have. Your success or failure rides on you. Not your major. Not your professors. Not your advisor. You. I make very few guarantees in life, but I promise you this: your college education will be the greatest investment you will ever make and the one thing you can truly bank on, or your biggest financial mistake. The choice is yours. Which will it be?

Good luck to everyone going back-to-school this year. My thoughts and best wishes go with you. Stick with it, never give up and know that I am rooting for you!

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Why I “Love” Bookmamas

Me and Kathleen     On this Valentine’s Day, I want to give a shout out to a very special someone who has been and continues to be an absolute hero in my life: Kathleen Angelone, owner of Bookmamas at 9 S. Johnson Avenue in Irvington.

Now most of you know I am not one to get overly sentimental, but on this day in which we celebrate what we love I feel compelled to point out that not only does Kathleen own a real honest to goodness independent bookstore, but it is literally a shop-around-the corner from Washington Street and Ritter Avenue. Nestled in the heart of this historic neighborhood is a treasure trove of beloved classic, recent titles and old favorites. She specializes in local authors, eclectic gifts for the book lover and has recently taken on a partner in Irvington Vinyl which boasts a huge collection of LPs, 45’s and fan rags for the music freak in us all!

In a day and age where emporiums like these are exceedingly rare, I want to point out that they are not important from a nostalgic perspective, but they offer something to the community a big box store or online warehouse cannot and that is personal service and attention. When you go into Bookmamas, you can be rest assured that Kathleen will take the time to get to know you. She has answered her customer’s call that they want to read and support local authors. They want books about Indiana or set in Indiana and she works TIRELESSLY to provide that. Not only is she in the shop, but she can be found at a number of farmer’s markets, craft fairs, and bazaars throughout the year bringing along the authors who need her as much as she needs them.

Bookmamas      When Kathleen launches one of my books, I do my best to go above and beyond to ensure that she has a good turnout because she goes above and beyond for me! I will promote the signing on social media, I will bring treats, I will write press releases, etc…because without her, I. Am. Nothing. Her shop is the most convenient for many of my readers to get to. She has built relationships with a number of local entities including the library, several senior communities, schools…I don’t know what all, and I don’t know of another independent bookstore nearby who can say that. I’m not saying its impossible to get into the bigger chain, and I have done several wonderful signings for them, but this woman knocks herself out to get her authors’ name out there and I am thrilled to come along for the ride.

What can you find at Bookmamas? Well books obviously, both new and used as well as Doctor Who gift items, magnets, mugs, pins, finger puppets, magazines, paper dolls, book marks, pens, music, and so much more. Every time I am in there I am surprised by what I discover. (Including a picture disc 45 of the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” and a stack of vintage Doctor Who fan magazines!)

As if that weren’t enough, last December my son was helping her out for the holidays and she casually asked him if he had gotten my present yet. When he said no, she said, “Well, I think I have you covered.” Kathleen showed him a book written and signed by the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Knowing how much I loved the game, she knew  how much I would appreciate it (as well as the rare signature) and my son readily agreed. He got the book, wrapped it and gave it to me Christmas morning. With all due respect to the folks at Amazon, I don’t think they could have pulled that one off…only Kathleen.

Bookmamas2    Look, we talk a lot about buying local, shopping local and I know everyone loves the bargains that we can find online. However, before hitting the one-click check out button for that special book item, do yourself a favor and see what Kathleen has to offer at Bookmamas. If your kid needs a treat, take them to the shop with the nice lady behind the counter and find them something they will love. If your teenager has to read War and Peace…buy it through Bookmamas. She probably has a few copies already in stock. If you want to support your favorite local author, shopping there is one of the BEST ways to do so. It helps the local economy. It helps Kathleen and it helps us because we get to meet and talk with you! She keeps us going, people. I’m not too proud to say it.

Today is Local History Day and I will be at Bookmamas from 1-3 p.m. signing copies of all of my local history books, as well as my young adult novel Fifteen Minutes of Fame, and my latest release, The Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism. Stop buy if you can, enjoy the music of Irvington vinyl (pick up an LP to set the mood for a romantic dinner) buy the book lover in your life a new title (trust me, it’s a HUGE aphrodisiac!) and meet Kathleen. You won’t regret coming into her shop and once you come in once, you’ll be back again and again!

 

 

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Naptown Nostalgia: Washington “Scare”

Washington Square      Once again, Washington Square Mall is in the news. After suffering for many, many years under the Simon Property Group, they have been taken over by a new management company who will be the latest to try and revive the once popular shopping center that used to be anchored by five major department stores and filled with clothing boutiques, music stores, book shops and a few specialty businesses.

I don’t know how to break it to them…but…they will fail.

Short of a major overhaul, there is nothing that can save that mall. I hate to be blunt but it’s true. You can fill it with churches, with a martial arts studio, nail salons too numerous to count, and stores that seem to specialize in stripper attire, but that does not make it a successful and thriving property that draws people from all over the city. As a journalist, I have spoken with mall managers over the years who have waxed poetically about how high the occupancy rate is, but it’s all I can do not to scream, “You’re kidding me, right? This place is an over-glorified flea market!” I highly doubt that this guy is doing a high percentage of his shopping there, I haven’t purchased anything outside of the target there since I don’t know when (unless it is Luca Pizza) and even the stock at the Dick’s Sporting Goods lacks in comparison to other area stores.

I also know for a fact that Simon hasn’t given a crap about that mall for a very, very long time. this may be obvious from the cracked blacktop in the parking lot and the broken signs, etc… but it was even admitted to my son when he went for a job interview at Simon and one of the guys there referred to it as the “red-headed stepchild.” In one comment, that guy (whose name I will not mention) slapped the entire east side in the face and basically said, “You aren’t worth  the effort.” I do want to say that my son actually spoke up in the interview and said, “Sir, with all due respect, I grew up on the east side and I find that statement offensive. That’s MY mall and it deserves better.” (No, he didn’t get the job, why do you ask? LOL)
Washington Square 3      Still my son is right. It is OUR mall and the way it has been treated makes me shake my head. I know that nothing lasts forever, but when when I close my eyes I can still see the glass awning that jutted out over the Lazarus store, see kids crowded around Fun ‘n Games waiting their turn to play the latest stand-up video game, my high school boyfriend slinging fast food at the Great Hot Dog Experience, smell the popcorn coming from the movie theater on the Block’s wing and can still hear the creek of the wooden floor whenever I entered Waldenbooks. I can see the latest shoes in Baker’s and the wild clothes that used to permeate Merry-Go-Round. I can smell the food coming from the McDonald’s that was so big, there were three different sections and I can remember back to a time when that was THE place to go see fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Once upon a time, my cousin and I used to dream of owning Washington Square and turning it into our mansion. We each picked an anchor store to be our “rooms” and talked about how we could have everything right at our fingertips…the whole mall would be empty and it would belong to us. Well…the mall is empty, but it doesn’t belong to us and the fantasy pales in comparison to the reality.

Reports say that the new management group believes that the mall can be sustained and that they may “fill” (I type this word with optimism and cynicism) it with non-retail entities such as social services, medical, and office space. Yeah ok….that’s real cute…but this is NOT what the east side needs. It needs RETAIL. Do they even get that? We need places to shop nearby so that we don’t have to drive all over town. We need our Dick’s to stock the same things as Castleton and Greenwood. We need some of the same cute little boutiques that dot other shopping centers. We need a freaking food court with fare we have heard of…we need a store like American Girl or the Lego store that would make Washington Square a destination for people from all over the state and beyond. Am I the only one with vision here, people? (See Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio for what we “could” have if the powers that be would just stop and think about giving the east side a true shopping experience that would draw others to the area.)

I don’t get it. The data shows that east siders have money to spend and that they prefer to spend it locally, but until someone realizes that a radical improvement/investment is needed to revitalize the area in order to restore it to its former glory, this is what we will be stuck with…a substandard space with management that believes we should “settle” for less than other areas of town.

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Naptown Nostalgia: Don’t touch that dial!

cbs-logo-wide       If you have ever wondered how to seriously screw with the people of Indianapolis, tell them that you are changing the way in which they watch TV. Trust me on this, you will need to get out the riot gear.

While no one is a big fan of change, the people of Naptown seem inordinately averse to it. Sometimes I think the city motto should be “We’ve never done it that way before (and we certainly aren’t going to start now!)” The other day, my entire equilibrium was rocked with the announcement that the CBS affiliate was changing stations. Instead of watching CBS programming on Channel 8 as I have all my life (save for the three years that I lived in North Carolina) I will now have to watch it on Channel 4.

I’m going to be honest…I don’t think I can do this.

I’m a person who tends to be set in her ways. When things switch around on me, I don’t handle it well. I remember years ago when, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, the NBC and ABC affiliates “traded” with each other and really screwed with my head. I was so little at the time that I literally have friends who do not remember this causing me to wonder if I imagined it myself. Thankfully in light of this recent news, those who recall this earth shattering event have come forward proving (at least for the time being) that I am not crazy and that moving things around the dial is problematic for some people. I do remember when Channel 13 was ABC and I watched Donny & Marie on Friday nights. Suddenly they were on Channel 6 and it took me forever to find them. I also remember when, in the early cable era, all of the local affiliates were on their appropriate channel numbers (except for Channel 59 because the cable box didn’t go that high) then all of a sudden, someone in a cubicle somewhere had to completely mess up the system and make Channel 13 show up on Channel 12, Channel 6 is on Channel 5 and Channel 8 is on Channel 7. Seriously, do these people subscribe to the George Lucas method of doing math?

When my son was little, he was a big fan of Sesame Street…no problem. We have a PBS affiliate. Once upon a time we called it Channel 20 and it was on the UHF dial in its appropriate spot between Channel 19 and Channel 21. Now if you ask me “how to get to Sesame Street” I am going to tell you that despite the fact that WFYI is called Channel 20, it is actually located on channel 3. (Don’t judge me, people, I suspect Count Von Count sympathizes with my issue here.)  We have the Christian channel WHMB-TV 40 that, last time I checked, is Channel 9 and as I recall at one point we had a Channel 42 which appeared on Channel 10 before disappearing completely or being swallowed whole by Channel 4. I really do not know what happened to it, but I am begging you…DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL!!!!

And now…we have this. CBS is moving to channel 4. At the moment, no one knows what is going to happen to the people working at the CBS affiliate. Perhaps they will find another affiliation and continue, but unless I am crazy (and the jury is still out on that) I think all of the major networks are accounted for. I have no clue as to what happens to the shows that were previously on channel 4 such as The Carrie Diaries, Arrow, etc…there are rumors that they are being moved to WTTV’s sub-channel 4.2 (seriously? Now we are using decimals?) but that will only help out people who have an antennae. Those of us who simply have cable may be out of luck and have to turn to our apps to see current episodes. and NO one has addressed what will happen to Sammy Terry’s Halloween special when all of this occurs…believe me, heads will ROLL if we do not get to see our favorite ghoul on October 31 on Channel 4. That would be a change we CAN’T live with.

I’m telling you we have already suffered enough this year. We had to contend ourselves with the fact that Jim Neighbors won’t sing at the 500 anymore. I don’t think we can take anything else..give us another 60 years and we’ll discuss another major break with tradition, but for now, I’m begging you. Leave the TV alone.

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Naptown Nostalgia: Let the Music Play On

used_records      I miss music stores. I’m not talking about the places loaded with the “if you break it, you buy it” signs on the guitars and some Jimmy Page wannabe plucking out the opening notes of “Stairway.” That’s an instrument shop. (OK fine, it technically qualifies as a a “music store” but I will make my point in a minute so work with me here.) I’m talking about music stores, the kind of place where you can find every album, tape, CD, rock music trade rag, t-shirt and popular sheet music one could ever want. The MUSIC store.

Once upon a time they were everywhere: There was Swann’s on 10th Street, the Listening Booth, Camelot, National Record Mart, a few places in Broad Ripple, etc…all staffed by people who knew all of the latest artists and knew exactly what you were looking for before you even asked. Sometimes it seemed that the employees of these emporiums had nothing to do all day but talk about the lives and careers of the music gods and debate the merits of Freddie Mercury vs. Robert Plant, but in reality, those conversations built a loyal customer base that lasted until digital downloads put the last nail in the coffin of the music industry as we knew it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to stream my music. I’m as guilty as the next person, but I miss unfolding a double album jacket to see the central photo on the inside. I miss  reading the lyrics and liner notes as I listen to a vinyl album for the first time. I miss the work that goes into the art on the cover (some of those albums were truly iconic) and I miss flipping through the poster rack to find that black light Zeppelin poster that I knew my mother would never let me hang in my bedroom.

I tell this story because tonight, I was able to reach out and touch the past. Irvington Vinyl inside Bookmamas is EXACTLY the kind of place we used to have but don’t anymore. From the moment I stepped inside and breathed in the musty smell of wax and old cardboard, I was a goner. (Thank God my purse was in the car or I would be BROKE!) I saw the familiar faces of the Fab Four smiling out from the Meet The Beatles album, a seal copy of Led Zeppelin II and III (they are probably reissues, but who cares?) There was a signed Brian Wilson Smile framed on the wall and I was drooling over some of the old magazines featuring some of my favorite artists.

“Funny thing about old albums is that sometimes the goodies inside were worth more than the actual disc,” I commented offhandedly.

“Very true,” he replied. “Some of that stuff is worth a lot.”

“KISS excelled at that including stickers, tattoos and other things that ended up being the real collector’s items,” I went on. “Of course then there is the bummer of buying an album three or four times only to find out that you still don’t have the rare version. I found that out the hard way with Heart’s Magazine.”

“Oh yeah, if you don’t have the original from the legal dispute when the songs were in a different order it’s not the same,” he confirmed.

Was I really having this conversation after all of these years? Who would have ever believed it? Sure on occasion I see some of these old album covers but usually it is somewhere that people are using them to make attractive tote bags (which feels sacrilegious  to me somehow) or in places like Urban Outfitters who wins brownie points for trying but you KNOW none of the employees know what is supposedly so significant about Paul’s bare feet on the Abbey Road cover.

While I know that this is not the only “music” store in the city, it is the closest one to me and I am begging all of my fellow Indy residents to support these businesses who “Keep the Faith,” who “Don’t Stop Beliveing” and who at times are “Livin’ on a Prayer” in order to make sure that the music goes on and on and on and on….

Until Next time, Keep Rockin’,

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Nostalgia Wednesday: The Paramount

Paramount     So I read this heartbreaking post about all of the things that Indianapolis used to have but doesn’t anymore. So many of the things that were mentioned used to be on my side of town and if you have ever watched a once great area succumb to a world of Dollar General Stores and Pawn shops, then you feel my pain.

Out of all of the entities mentioned in the piece, the one that stands out the most for me was the Paramount Music Palace. (Yes, I know this is the second “pizza” post I have done…don’t judge me! LOL) This place was really something. I remember going there the first time with my parents and grandparents who promised that this place boasted good pizza an a lot of organ music.

Now, you have to understand, my grandparents owned an “organ” that I played whenever I visited…and when they told me that this organ would “rise up” I had some kind of levitation act in mind. I had no clue what I was in for. Somehow we ended up arriving at the perfect time. The organ was nowhere in sight. We ordered our pizza and found a seat on the  floor level and suddenly the lights went down and…WOW! The Mighty Wurlitzer rose out of this pit and the entire place sprang to life! This was no ordinary organ! This thing was the entire building! A lot of the music played was old-timey Americana tunes that my grandparents seemed to know every word to, but every once in a while, the organist would play something very familiar. Believe me, there was nothing greater than hearing the Imperial fanfare to Star Wars blare out from the horn section located above the mezzanine. (Unless of course it was sitting your grandma under them and scaring her half to death!)

On Saturday nights, if you were still there late into the evening, they showed old Laurel and Hardy movies (sometimes with musical accompaniment). Not only did I go there with my parents and other family members, but I also went there for school field trips and with my friends. My oldest son even went there once and I can still see him dancing to “Under the Sea.”

The organ was eventually relocated to Florida and installed into a similar pizza place, but the recession forced that entity to close as well and the organ remains in storage. There are a number of people who would like to see it return to Indianapolis, but it’s unlikely to happen. Still, it is a reminder that once upon a time, not so long ago, this side of town was not the wasteland it has turned into in recent years. Here’s hoping that someone in the near future will take notice that there are people who want to see quality stores and restaurants come to this area and would support those businesses and perhaps then, the Eastside will ride high again!

 

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Buy It, Borrow It, or Bag It: Killers in the Family by Robert L. Snow

killers      This is not the kind of book I would ordinarily read. I’m not a true-crime kind of girl and and I especially avoid any book that has the ability to give me nightmares for the next three weeks. However, this one was different. This book was finally going to answer exactly what happened to a 13-year-old Indianapolis girl who was found murdered in the spring of 1986.

I still remember the day that the story broke. I was in 8th grade and was the same age as the deceased. I remember walking into school and being told about the death from some kids who had played softball with the girl at the local little league park. I didn’t know her but I did know the family suspected of the murder. In fact, a few of them had been my classmates.

Now, I willingly admit that at the time, I found the whole thing a little impossible to believe. Could the members of this particular family actually be guilty of murder? Yes, they had a bad reputation. Yes, they were a little strange. Yes, I had heard the rumors…but I wasn’t willing to convict without proof.

Unfortunately the police had the same problem. Despite having an assortment of evidence that pointed to this family, it was considered to be “circumstantial.” DNA testing was not available back then and the case eventually went cold. It was not brought back into the spotlight until 2008, when one of the family members was involved in a series of murders as well as the shooting of a police officer. After more than 20 years, technology advanced to the point that now blood samples could now be positively identified beyond “type” and the responsible person could be brought to trial.

Robert Snow did a great job reporting on the crimes that occurred two decades apart and how the 2008 incident ultimately led to solving the 1986 cold case. There was a little too much courtroom testimony for my taste and I would have liked to have seen more background on the family itself, but in a way I wasn’t surprised. Many people who knew them, even peripherally, do not like to talk about them. As I mentioned…this is not the type of book that I would ordinarily read, but due to the fact that I knew the case and some of the people involved…needless to say for me, it was a page turner. If you are from the Indy area, remember the case or are a fan of true crime, this book has it all and you should Buy It, but if not, it’s best to pass it by.

 

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Wacky Wednesday- Naptown Nostalgia

Godfathers_graphic     Remember Godfather’s Pizza? It seemed like I was there every Friday night with my family at the East Washington Street location where we ordered a large sausage for my brother and myself and my parents got a large half mushroom/half green pepper pie. (This was clearly before my mother’s stomach revolted on her with Chron’s disease.) If memory serves, we weren’t alone. I can recall times when the line for pizza stretched all the way out the door.

I loved everything about that place. I always wanted to sit at the tables that were two steps up from the rest of the restaurant and along the perimeter and I used to beg my dad for $.50 so that I could play some songs on the jukebox. Sometimes we would even play video games while we waited for our pizza, but this was long before Chuck E. Cheese overwhelmed everyone with gaming options. Godfathers only had three: a pinball machine, Defender and Ms. PacMan.

When I think about it, I can still remember the commercials. There was some Al Capone Gangster looking guy wearing a pin stripe suit who used to tell you that he could make you a pizza that you couldn’t refuse. My family even had the special plastic coke containers that we carted back each week so that we could get our free refill. Ah…the good old days.

The other day, my better half came home from work with a cardboard pizza box bearing the two words I had not seen in forever: Godfather’s Pizza. The logo no longer looked like it had been hit with a Tommy Gun, but the pizza still tasted as good as I remembered.

“Where did you find it?” I wanted to know.

He shrugged. “They sell it at some gas station I pass on the way home.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. My beloved Godfather’s had been reduced to gas station fare? It seemed like a cruel trick of nature and I seriously contemplated a protest. However, sometimes it’s best to be happy with the pizza in your hand rather than long for things to go back to the way they used to be.

Needless to say the pie was gone in a 1/2 hour.

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