LONG AND CRAZY WEEK
It has been a long and crazy week. I was up and having coffee around seven o’clock last Thursday. I turned on the television and could hardly believe what I was hearing and seeing.
Lyn and I know people that are employed by FedEx and also had family members that have been employees. It took me a little time to understand the difference in the two FedEx facilities on the westside near the airport. None of our friends were involved in the tragedy.
I was impressed with the news coverage and follow-up. Lots of people have much healing to accomplish. I know that there already is help standing by. If you know someone that could use some assistance, I was reminded yesterday that people can simply dial 211 and get started.
On Saturday afternoon, I heard about someone firing a gun inside the Walmart near Beech Grove. That is the Walmart that I have generally visited over the past years especially during the years when I was working at Beech Grove City Schools.
I was once again stunned to hear about something like this happening on the Southside. No one was seriously hurt, but I am still very concerned about people carrying guns in public. I have also noticed a large increase in the amount of aggressive driving, and it sorta scares me when I think of those drivers who might be armed.
We have noticed that our dog, Stuart, has been acting quite differently during the FedEx and Walmart incidents. Many dogs, including Stuart, can notice quickly when their humans are sick or upset. I’m sure he noticed when Lyn and I were getting information about the shootings. He wasn’t eating normally, leaving his food sitting for hours and sleeping a lot. He had his yearly physical last week and was given a couple of injections.
Last Saturday afternoon, Stuart and I were invited to Manor Care Nursing Facility to have a second short visit in the last couple of weeks with his “girlfriend” Christi. Stuart was perfectly calm with Christi. Stuart sat on my lap with Christi in her chair next to us so she could pet him. The visit seemed to help Stuart, too.
When we got home, Stuart gobbled down some of his food, sat up on his couch, looked around, and enjoyed the afternoon. And then he came over and sat on my lap, as usual.
EDGEWOOD AND RILEY SCHOOLS
I have been staying in contact with Ted Lobdell and Barry Hix. These two fellows have been very involved in reconnecting all the former students, their families, teachers and all other staff members from the former Edgewood Grade School. They have put together a couple of wonderful school reunions in the past 10 or 12 years.
Edgewood Grade School opened in 1914. Many folks in the local community felt the building was way too large with much wasted space. Within seven years, all the space that was being used for storage was converted to classrooms and the first addition to the building was under construction.
I attended Edgewood from 1948 to 1954. My class was the very first second-grade class to attend the James Whitcomb Riley building that is also located on the Edgewood property. This was a time of lots of growth in Perry Township.
In 1948, the main building had students from all eight elementary grades. The Riley building opened in 1949 and both first and second grades were relocated in the new building. This gave the main building some breathing room. My class returned to the main building for third through sixth grades.
As my class moved up to the seventh grade, the Perry Township Junior High School opened on Banta Road. This allowed all of the grade schools in Perry Township to provide classes for students from first through sixth grades.
It is so very interesting to me when I get a chance to read through some of the school’s history. The original history of Edgewood was written for the 50th Anniversary in 1964 by Eleanor Ross Kleinhenz, a former pupil during its early years.
It is amazing to see the faculty rosters from all the years that Edgewood and Riley were open. Starting in 1923 through 1928, Calvin Leedy was principal of Edgewood Grade School and later at Southport High School when my class graduated.
Hugh Thompson followed him as principal from 1928 through 1935, and he was our junior-high principal.
Paul L. (Pete) Bailey was principal from 1939 through 1972. Catherine Sanders was the first principal for the Riley building. They were married sometime between the 1968-69 and 1969-70 school years.
The two schools closed at the end of the 1979/80 school year. The following year, the Edgewood building was demolished. The Riley building is still on the property and a few years ago, it was reopened as a school.
At one time, a dozen basketball goals were available at the Edgewood school for students to play outdoors during recess and for everyone to play at other times. Lobdell and Hix were able to place a new outside basketball goal on the property which is in place with plans for a formal dedication within a few months.
Last September, my good friend, Ron Browning and I took a small portable basketball goal up to the old Edgewood property. We took a few shots so that we could claim to have scored the last goals before the new goal was put in place.
I’ve already seen pictures of Ted shooting a basketball toward the new goal.
I’m excited about us Edgewood folks getting together again for this dedication. We will keep everyone posted.
A BUS NAMED GRACIE
A number of years ago, I had a great part-time job driving a charter bus for The Free Enterprise System.
I worked mostly local charters and was one of the few part-timers that was assigned my own bus. I have always felt that a pet, a vehicle or a piece of equipment that you enjoy using should have a special name. My bus was known as “Gracie”.
One day, my fellow drivers and I were notified that a special convention was coming to Indianapolis. It was a large group of charter bus companies and Free Enterprise was both a member and host company. This was going to involve quite a bit of work for our drivers.
I was instructed to drive a group from the convention center to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a special dinner. I was assigned to drive a new bus that was on display at the convention. I had never driven a bus of that make or model, so I arrived early to check it out.
I met with a couple of employees of the bus manufacturer and they gave me a quick tour of the vehicle while explaining a few of the small problems that had surfaced; however, he assured me that there were no major problems. He then mentioned that several buzzers and red lights might appear on the dashboard. I started and shut down the bus several times, but no buzzers or lights came on.
Soon after my brief orientation, my passengers boarded the bus and we were on our way. Within a few blocks, the buzzers and lights started vying for my attention. I began flipping switches and trying to remember what those guys had advised me to do.
While stopped at a traffic light, I tried to minimize the buzzing noise. The car to my right had made a right turn; so after looking both ways, I took off.
At about the time that I was halfway into the intersection, I realized the light was still red. Since I didn’t see any moving vehicles on the cross street, I decided that it might be safer to proceed than to slam on the brakes. I glanced into my rearview mirror just in time to see a police car peek out from behind the bus and start flashing its red and blue lights.
I pulled to the curb and quickly began explaining my situation. The female officer laughed and said that she had pulled me over to see if I knew something that she wasn’t aware of about dealing with traffic lights. She didn’t ask for my license or the vehicle registration, saying that she saw me check traffic in both directions and that I had not placed anyone in danger.
I know that the owners of our company were embarrassed, and I took a bunch of flack during the dinner and the remainder of the trip.
Several years later after I had started driving a school bus for Beech Grove City Schools, I began picking up a young kindergarten student on my route. Parents are asked to be at the bus stop for their kindergarten and first-grade students. This young boy’s mom looked sort of familiar to me. One day I noticed that his mom was wearing a police officer’s uniform.
Yes! I was pretty sure it was her. I waited a few weeks before I asked her if she ever patrolled on the near northwest-side of Indianapolis. We laughed and hugged. We started relating our story to anyone that would listen.
She and her family moved out of state a few years later. I’m sure that occasionally she still retells our story.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools.