I read a newspaper article about a presentation being hosted by the festival at the Concord Neighborhood Center about a Near-Southside neighborhood and the drastic changes to that area when I-70 was constructed.
During lunch with several of my former high school classmates, my friend Sharon Darko-David said she knew about the program and was planning to attend. We decided to go together.
The festival, which ran from Nov. 4-13 while featuring more than 40 events throughout the city, has a different theme every year; this year it was “Home.” The program that we went to was titled “Homes Before Highways: Communities Under the Exit Ramps.”
It was interesting to learn of the makeup of these neighborhoods and how they all seemed to get along. There was discussion about the Oriental Theatre, which was one of the many businesses demolished to make way for I-70.
As Sharon and I found a couple of seats, the gentleman sitting next to us introduced himself to us as Ronald Corn, and he said he enjoyed local history. As we were chatting I found out that he is a cousin to one of my childhood neighbors, Marilyn Kottkamp.
The program was interesting. Many of the folks in attendance were recognized as residents or former residents. Some of the people, including a man over 100 years old, shared some fascinating stories.
A mother and daughter were in the audience, and the mom told a few stories about their neighborhood lives before the interstate changed things. Later the daughter started to tell a story. All of a sudden she stopped and said, “Whoops, I can’t tell that. Mom is here.”
The topics of discussion were amazing, and they included homelessness, historic newspapers, Riverside’s past, present and future and Veterans writing home while serving their country.
As the program ended I heard my name being called and turned to see my friend and former neighbor Dave Alexander, who was a bank manager for Indiana National for many years. He was from the neighborhood discussed in the presentation and worked at a couple of banks in the area. As I was talking with Dave, Sharon connected with a former student who she worked with when she was teaching in Decatur Township.
Next year’s festival will carry the theme “Power.” A pamphlet promoting the 2017 program noted that power taken literally or otherwise is a complex reality. Power can be disquieting, discomforting and oppressive. It can also be illuminating, inspiring and hopeful.
I’m so looking forward to attending.