In the spring of 2011, we began putting together a very special program about Longacre Pool and Park. We had connected with David Dodrill (son of Rufus Dodrill, owner of Longacre in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s). He provided us with over 100 photos of the entire facility that we were able to use in the program. David was also our main speaker for a wonderful evening with around 250 folks.
During the preparation for this program, the historical society was working with the staff at The Southsider Voice to promote the upcoming special evening. On one occasion, I was in their office and sharing some of the Longacre stories with the staff. After a few of those stories, publisher Kelly Sawyers said something about the possibility of me writing an article about some of my experiences growing up on the Southside.
On July 20, 2011, my first article was published in The Southsider Voice. It was about some of my memories of playing basketball on the numerous outside basketball courts on the property of Edgewood Grade School. I spoke of some of the memorable players from around Indianapolis who would venture down to Edgewood and play on those courts. They would welcome anyone to play there.
Now, let’s move forward eight years. On July 23, the historical society will open the Edgewood Basketball Hall of Fame, based on the basketball history in that two-block stretch of Epler Avenue with Madison Avenue in the middle. The former Edgewood grade school and the Kautsky grocery store were located there.
The former principal the Edgewood grade school, Paul L. Bailey and Frank Kautsky were very good friends. Bailey taught Kautsky about basketball. Edgewood was centrally located, and the Edgewood school basketball teams were very strong. Several players from those teams continued to excel in high school and college. A few moved on to play professional basketball.
At some point, Kautsky approached Bailey and explained that he had a great interest in developing and sponsoring a professional basketball team. The team was formed in the mid-30’s and folded in 1949. Bailey was involved in the development of the team and played. The Kautsky’s became the very first professional basketball team in Indiana.
The list of great basketball players with connections to Edgewood and the Kautsky’s professional team is amazing. Several names have been nominated and approved for the dedication of the hall of fame on July 23.
I have become friends with a couple of great former Edgewood students that have been involved with several Edgewood school reunions. Ted Lobdell and Barry Hix have done so much to help honor the school and put together a special memorial on school property.
Ted and Barry also have met with union representatives in a building that is located on the former Edgewood school property. They have authorized an outdoor basketball goal to be placed on the same property.
So, anyone interested in Southside hoops, please mark your calendar for July 23 to attend the historical society’s meeting in the gymnasium of the Perry Township Education Center at the corner of Banta and Orinoco streets. The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. And I am sure this will be one of our most special meetings.