My wife, Lyn, and I made our annual trip to Brown County in late November to celebrate our anniversary, and we took Stuart, our therapy dog, with us.
Our drive time took a little longer than normal because of all the road work.
It was a beautiful day, and Nashville wasn’t that crowded. We visited several businesses that allowed Stuart to come in with us. Sometimes he just curled up in the car for a nap.
We drove over to the main office of Brown County Schools, where Dr. Laura Hammack is the superintendent. I got to know her when she served as an assistant superintendent for Beech Grove Schools. The receptionist told me that Dr. Hammack would be getting out of a meeting soon.
I asked the receptionist to tell her, “Stuart is here to see you.”
Dr. Hammack later told me that she was excited to hear that message and that she knew exactly who Stuart was.
The next day The Perry Township/Southport Historical Society held its meeting.
Over the years the society has collected many old newspapers from the Southside, including The Spotlight and The Perry Township Weekly, and many of those were on display. Some of the papers were so old and fragile that we were asked not to touch them.
Jerry Cosby, former Spotlight owner and publisher, attended the meeting and shared some stories.
Barry Browning, the society’s former president, coordinated the program. On one occasion he pointed to a couple of old newspapers and told an amazing story. He told us that one of them was started as a Southside weekly and a few years later the other one was a weekly based in Beech Grove.
Both of those papers was launched by George Dudgeon, a Southsider who was stricken with polio when he was 5. He graduated from Southport High, where he was involved in the journalism program, and attended Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis).
The journalism department at Indiana Central ended up in the red for about $100 the year before George enrolled. This was probably due to not enough ads sold in the yearbook. George took over those responsibilities his freshman year, and the journalism budget was in the green around Christmas.
Mr. Dudgeon accomplished and learned many things during his freshman year. So much so that he figured he had learned enough. He dropped out and started his first newspaper circa 1925.
In 1932 he started a bicycle store at Madison and Epler avenue. It later became The Supreme Bicycle Shop, which he owned and operated until 1992.
George was 100 when he died in 2004. He was confined to a wheelchair for many years, but he was a bicycle legend. He trained Little 500 teams for more than 20 years and won the race 10 times.
There are so many wonderful stories about Southside people and businesses. I have so much fun being involved with the society. I bet you would enjoy being a member.