April 11th, 2017

“I bet they’ve got some stories…”

by Isabelle Matthies, High School intern

In partnership with local theater troops and community leaders, the Harrison Center is proud to introduce Pre-Enactment Theater, a performance arts program to encourage neighborhood development and pride in the Monon 16 area. This is the second in a series of posts dedicated to preserving the golden-days memories of these neighborhoods while looking forward to a bright future, and is made possible by generous interviews from community members.

When Aine and I planned a group interview with four veteran Indy dwellers, our goal was simply to collect their stories to better understand the area. We could have never predicted the vibrant neighborhood history formerly existing in this community, let alone the overwhelming amount of information they had to share. Imagine a group of four friends with powerful shared life experiences, reuniting for the sake of reminiscing. Now imagine trying to reign in the ensuing conversation. We quickly abandoned any pre-conceived structure, because, as Ron Lovett stated, “I bet they’ve got some stories…”

Because of the richness of the interview, Aine and I will both be writing various posts to cover all our bases. This post will simply introduce our interviewees, Ron Lovett, Bill Gibson, Bob Wells, and Roger Brown.

Ron Lovett, our initial contact and neighborhood networker, looked around our discussion table, observing that, “Well, if you look at it, you got one generation [gesturing to Bob Wells], the next generation [looking at Roger Brown and Bill Gibson], and then I’m younger than them [pointing to himself] … Four different layers of people who grew up in the neighborhood.” Lovett attended IPS #26 as an elementary school student, and continued to live in the area and went on to serve as a firefighter.

Described by Arsenal Tech’s dean of boys as, “the most persistent person I’ve ever seen in my life,” Roger Brown entered the neighborhood workforce in 4th grade, delivering newspapers and giving the profit to his grandmother. He can name nearly every business that used to be in town, and has a personal story to match each location.

Bill Gibson is an air force veteran with strong family times to the neighborhood. As with many long time community members, Gibson attended IPS #26, and his extended family owned a vegetable market and various other businesses. In the 1960s, Gibson recalled never having to go more than seven blocks to find everything you’d need among his neighborhood. From the dentist to the grocer to the funeral home, you had everything.

Finally, Bob Wells attended IPS #26 and Arsenal Tech, and particularly remembers the abundance of basketball courts, as well as the community which formed on the court.

Keep on the lookout for further posts detailing the Monon 16 neighborhood in the 1950’s-1960’s, the best stories are yet to come!