I had the opportunity to visit and share stories with a number of friends and past neighbors last week at the showing of Katherine Ake.
She and her husband, Joe, were our special neighbors from my youth. Their home was the first house west of Madison Avenue on the north side of Thompson Road. The only thing between their house and Madison was the property that once featured the rail tracks for the interurban trains that traveled from Indianapolis to Columbus, Ind.
We had a few small businesses in our neighborhood, and all of the kids knew one another and had fun playing together. I remember visiting the Ake house often. They Akes lived in a small home, and they had four daughters, so the house was getting sort of crowded.
Mr. Ake had started repairing televisions as a hobby in his basement, but it eventually turned into a wonderful business – Recommended TV. Televisions were black and white at that time and were filled with lots of tubes that burned out and had to be replaced.
One day while I was visiting and admiring a large addition to the house, I noticed the youngest daughter, Carol, walking near an open door that was the entrance to the stairs leading to the basement. I noticed her getting closer and closer to those stairs. The next time I focused in that direction, she wobbled a bit, lost her balance and toppled out of site.
I stood frozen; at first I couldn’t make a sound. I glanced around the room and seemed to be the only person who had witnessed this terrible accident. The room had become quiet before I heard a noise coming from what I supposed was a badly hurt girl at the bottom of the stairs.
I was sort of bumfuzzled when I heard the noise again. It sounded like a giggle. As I slowly made my way to the opening and looked down, there sat Carol laughing at the bottom of the stairs.
She was sitting on a large pile of clothing that covered the bottom of the stairs. On my second look I noticed that none of the steps were visible. They were also covered with lots of clothing. About that time, Katherine Ake stepped up beside me and said, “It’s a good thing I hadn’t done the laundry yet, isn’t it?”
I visited with Katherine’s family and friends at the funeral home, where we laughed and relived so many great times. I think that Katherine was probably one of the last living parents from my childhood in our neighborhood. She was a special neighbor and mother.
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. He is married to Lyn Shonk.