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Saturday, January 14, 2023
Black American Contributions to Shelby County, Part I
Editor’s note: As we head into this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, it’s important to remember not only the national events that moved race relations forward, but also the local people who contributed to our community. Below is the first of a three-part series denoting historical newspaper items involving Black citizens in Shelby County, curated from a Paula Karmire compilation available in the Shelby County Public Library’s Genealogy Department. Below each name or subject is the text from the newspaper clipping.
Estes, Madison, Shelby Republican - April 13, 1870
Madison Estes, the blacksmith, cast the first colored vote ever cast in Shelby County, at the primary election in this city, on Saturday, April 2. He voted for Judge J.M. Wilson for Congress, and his was the first vote deposited in the ballot box on that day.
The Shelbyville News - October 20, 1949
For many years the Negro citizens of this community have been hopeful of securing a suitable center for recreation and for a program of handicraft instruction. This desire is at last being realized through the establishment of the colored recreation center which will be open for use in its new location in the former Booker T. Washington school building located on S. Harrison Street. Administration of this project will be under the direction of a recreation committee headed by Cassius Bennett, chairman. Assisting as committee members are Rev. Noel Hord, Mrs. Earlene Smith, William Smith, Mrs. Mary Phillips, James Reeves, Mrs. Leona Murray, Mrs. Lucille Simpson, Mrs. Florence Brashear, Luther Murray and Richard Byrd. Through aid furnished by the Community Chest fund and by means of additional appropriations from the City of Shelbyville, this group hopes to establish a social center and a worthwhile instructional program which will be beneficial to the entire community. This project which was started last March has developed into something far beyond the initial expectations of those persons who originated the idea. These persons, realizing the facilities of the temporary headquarters on Pike Street were inadequate, were anxious for a more suitable location in which a program could be developed. The interest of the young people served to develop enthusiasm among the adults who recognized the value of such a proposed center. It is hoped in the future the program may be enlarged to include subjects of interest to adults. Mrs. Laura Garrett, who was appointed by Mayor Harold Pickett, will serve as the director of this recreation center, which is expected to accommodate a daily average of 35 boys and girls. Larger crowds are expected during evenings and on Saturdays. The directorship is in the capable hands of Mrs. Garrett. who is well qualified for this position. Mrs. Garrett, the former Laura O'Bannon, is a resident of this community and a graduate of Shelbyville High School in 1924. She is the mother of Jim and Bill Garrett, who have been outstanding athletes at Shelbyville High School. The Booker T. Washington building is an ideal location for this purpose and in addition very few changes will be needed in the interior of the building. The upstairs section of the building is to be divided into two parts. One portion is to serve as a woodcraft shop with such equipment as a wood lathe and an electric saw. The other half is to be used as a social room furnishing a place for various games. Stairway landings will serve as small areas where checkers and domino games may be played on card tables. The first floor of the building is to feature a snack bar provided with a grill, stools and a counter. Music for entertainment and dancing will be furnished by a jukebox. Also on this floor are to be placed two tables on which the children may work. In addition, two ping-pong tables, one of which is now ready for use, will be available for those who like this type of game. Basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pitching, croquet and baseball are to be played on outside courts. The amount of $1,750 allotted to the colored recreational center and raised through the generosity of the people of this community by means of the Community Chest fund will make possible the realization of this long awaited project and will provide the colored population with a suitable recreational center which can be used by young people and adults alike.
City Park Plans, Shelbyville Republican-July 30, 1942
Possibility that a city park for exclusive use of colored people of the community may be purchased when the war is ended was revealed last night at a meeting of the city council. Discussion of the proposed park arose during consideration of the budget for the New recreation center for 1943. The 1943 budget for the center, in operation here for the past few years, called for the expenditure of nearly $1,000. The center is housed in an abandoned building on S. Pike Street, near the Locust street intersection. Pointing out that Negroes of the city do not use either the Morrison Park or the Porter Pool, council members expressed the belief the recreation center open to them is entirely inadequate.
Blackburn Ice Cream Parlor, Shelby Republican - April 26, 1913
The ice cream parlor conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Blackburn was opened Wednesday night with great success, Messrs Hayes and Good furnishing some first-class music for the occasion. All friends and well-wishers were present at the opening. They have now secured a new soda fountain. The parlor will be open every afternoon and evening. All are invited.
Curtis, John, Shelbyville Republican - February 7, 1887
John Curtis proceeded to turn the crank of the pipe organ at the ME Church last night but forgot to turn on the gas so the choir could see their way. The choir should have started in on that old song, "Walking in the Light."
National Volunteer - March 17, 1870
The colored orator Frederick Douglass lectured at Blessing's Opera Hall on Tuesday evening last to a large audience, many of whom expressed themselves as highly pleased with the effort. Fred is a very good speaker and usually manages to say a great many things calculated to please his audience.
Emancipation Day - 35th year anniversary, Indianapolis Recorder - January 7, 1898
The colored citizens of Shelbyville, assisted by a large number of their friends, celebrated in a becoming manner Saturday afternoon at the Second M E Church, on S. Pike Street, Emancipation Day. The minister of this congregation is the Rev. J.T. Leggett, one of the best known colored divines in Indiana and a gentleman of sterling qualities and first class abilities. He takes great interest and pride in the progress his race is making and is never happier than when they come together on occasions like this. On this special occasion the Grand Army boys (Grand Army of the Republic), the WRC, the Sons of Veterans, the Aid Society and a number of citizens met with the colored people in the church named. The program was varied and interesting from beginning to the end. A number of patriotic songs were used, the pupils of the colored school leading. Miss Naomi Roberts, a decidedly bright young lady, read an original essay giving an historical sketch of slavery. The Rev. Gray of the Second Baptist Church spoke on "The Negro Since the War" and the Rev. Williams on "The Future of the Negro." Mrs. S.A. Ramey sang most beautifully the "Swanee River." Norris Winterrowd made a few remarks on behalf of Dumont Post. A number of the colored people who were slaves made talks that brought tears to the eyes of many. The meeting and the celebration was a decided success.
Shelbyville Democrat - March 29, 1921
The Tugs, the colored baseball team of this city, announced through the manager the team is now ready to play ball. The Tugs were first organized 10 years ago. Every season, this team has put up a high article of baseball. This year the team has been strengthened by the addition of a number of players from other towns. Their games have always attracted large crowds. The only place the team has to play is at the fairgrounds, and for that reason most of their games will be played this season away from Shelbyville. The team is not asking for the use of the new park on the south side of town, now in course of construction, but they would be pleased to have the use of it when not otherwise engaged. They would expect to pay the rental price unless the rent was made so high the price would be prohibitive. This team has always played baseball in a gentlemanly, sportly way, and no disorders of any kind have ever attended their games. The team this year will be much stronger than ever before. All teams desiring to make a date with the Tugs can address The Tugs, 115 East Jackson Street, Shelbyville.
Bell/Motley "settlement" - Shelbyville Democrat - May 11, 1889
Two colored girls, one named Pearl Bell, who is about 13 and of slight build, and the other named Bettie Motley, who is large and about 18, fought for 30 minutes by the watch on S. Harrison Street yesterday evening after the colored school was dismissed. Bettie picked Pearl up and slammed her down on the ground several times, but the little one "toed the scratch" when time was called and finally knocked Bettie cold as a wedge with a half brick, ending the fight. Bettie was hauled off in a wagon. Bettie claims that Pearl has been annoying her for some time, and yesterday's battle was for the purpose of settling the matter, and it evidently did.
Next week’s Shelbyville Common Council meeting, typically scheduled for Mondays, has been moved to Wednesday, 8:30 a.m., due to the holiday. The agenda includes election of officers and the first reading of a golf carts policy, among other items.
The following Shelbyville High School students were recognized as January Bears Best award recipients for demonstrating the character trait of Discipline: Tristen Mitchem, Olivia Graham, Riley Fortune, Pacey Virden, Sophia Wainscott, Abdrea Rosales, Peyton Rodriguez, Ava Mummert, Jake Huffman, Jenna Pettis, Abby Bradburn and Will Rife.
HOOSIER NEWS: Indiana State Police's Lowell post announced a renewed effort to combat impaired driving in 2023 as they report 2022's "concerning" statistics on impaired driving. State police said 12 state troopers from the Lowell post were struck by motorists last year while inside or outside their patrol vehicles. Eight of the 12 were hit by impaired drivers. Arrests for operating while intoxicated remained high, state police said. Troopers arrested 508 people for impaired driving last year, a slight decrease from 526 the previous year. (Yahoo News)
NATIONAL NEWS: Pepsi announced it’s killing Sierra Mist after 24 years of failing to make a dent in sales of rival Sprite. According to Beverage Digest, Sierra Mist had about 0.1 percent of the soda market, and that figure has been declining for five years. Meanwhile, Sprite is a solid 8 percent of the soda business. Pepsi has decided just to wipe the slate clean and launch a new lemon-lime beverage it’s calling Starry, which is free of caffeine and available in regular and sugar-free formats. (CNN Business)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2003
Moral Township Volunteer Firefighters responded to an unusual incident when they were dispatched to an accident with injury at CR 1200 N and CR 900 W. Chief David Riggins, first on the scene, observed an Oldsmobile minivan had run the stop sign, traveled through a yard, struck a wooden fence owned by Gary Larkey and stopped in a large - four feet deep and 30 feet in diameter - pile of horse manure. The driver of the vehicle was too intoxicated to give a statement to Sheriff Deputy Louie Koch on what happened.
30 YEARS AGO: 1993
JC Penney held a 50 percent-off sale to mark their final week in business.
40 YEARS AGO: 1983
The Triton Central boys team won the Shelby County championship. Team members were Kevin Sego, Mark Stephenson, Todd Welty, Kevin Schnippel, Tim Bowman, Sean Curry, Jeff Chaney, Bill Emmert, Scott Shoopman, Mark Gibson and Ed Melloh. Hank West was coach and Freddy Cook was manager.
50 YEARS AGO: 1973
Concrete block foundations were set for the two large apartment buildings planned at Berwick Manor off W. McKay Road.
60 YEARS AGO: 1963
Mr. and Mrs. Bill Edwards purchased the Kennedy Commercial Printing business at 15 W. Jackson St. from Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Kennedy. Kennedy was retiring after 45 years in the printing business in Shelbyville, since 1917. Edwards was a World War II Navy veteran. Kennedy and his wife had one son, Paul Kennedy. The business had been on W. Jackson St. since 1943. Kennedy had combined his business in 1945 with one he purchased from the late L.E. Webb, former mayor of Shelbyville.
70 YEARS AGO: 1953
Principals throughout Shelbyville were working to see if television sets could be installed so that local children could see the inauguration of President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supt. W.F. Loper said.
Eugene Bryer, 446 Howard St., former local manager of the Holland Furnace Co., opened Bryer Home Heating Service. Bryer started offering 24-hour service on oil, gas and coal furnaces and other equipment.
80 YEARS AGO: 1943
For the first time in 10 years, the four children of Mr. and Mrs Esta Bass, 405 W. Franklin St., gathered at their parents’ house. A turkey dinner was served. The eldest son, Pvt. Howard Bass, had been living in Los Angeles before his Army induction. Lt. William Bass was stationed at Fort Benning. Mrs. Clayton Meiks, a daughter who lived on Knightstown Road, was present with her husband and daughter, Susan, and Mrs. William Stafford, the other daughter who lived in Hope, was also present with her family.
90 YEARS AGO: 1933
Shelbyville would once again host the sectional basketball championship, state officials announced. Schools participating in the local sectional would be: Shelbyville, Columbus, Mt. Auburn, Moral, Fairland, Morristown, Boggstown, Waldron, Flat Rock, Hope and Clifford. The state finals would be played at Butler University Fieldhouse.
100 YEARS AGO: 1923
Charles Carroon of Shelbyville and two Acton men met in Morristown to discuss building a canning factory.
The 78-year-old pastor of the Holiness Christian Church received a letter threatening to hang him unless he left Hope. Several members of the Ku Klux Klan in Hope armed themselves and prepared to defend the minister against attack, The Republican reported. The church had been engaged in “factional strife” for some time over the matter of changing the name of the church, the paper said.
A driver attempting to turn north-bound onto South Harrison St. from Colescott at a high rate of speed instead drove into the former Mickey’s T-Mart parking lot, striking the sign. The vehicle continued through the lot toward Goodyear Tire, where the driver struck the building and came to a stop. Emergency personnel determined the driver had a medical emergency, causing him to lose control. He was transported to Indianapolis for medical treatment.
Thefts were reported in the 2300 block of Steeple Chase and first block of McLane St., Shelbyville.
JAIL BOOK-INS: Paul Berkemeier, 33, hold for another jurisdiction; Jenna L. Billingsley, 34, possession of hypodermic needle; Mister M.A. Gibson, 43, hold for another jurisdiction; Courtney M. Schreiber, 33, possession of meth, marijuana; Amanda L. Thomas, 39, writ of attachment, domestic battery.
“Morning Sets” and “Kissaten”
I am finishing up writing on the topics that Dr. Linda Borchert so graciously sent to me after her visit to Japan last summer. She needs to make another visit—soon—to replenish me with column ideas! She astutely observed that many hotels and restaurants in Japan offer an economically priced breakfast for the budget conscious person called a “morning set.”
For under 1,000 yen (roughly $6.78), and sometimes for as little as half that, you can get a Western-style breakfast on the run that consists of a cup of coffee (which can often be substituted easily for another drink, like tea or juice), some sort of egg (fried, hardboiled or scrambled), a slice of bacon or ham, a small cabbage or lettuce salad with dressing, and usually a slice of toast with jam. There are also “Japanese-style morning sets” that feature a piece of grilled fish, a bowl of rice, tsukemono (Japanese-style pickles), and a bowl of miso soup. In the Western-style sets, I have often seen hot dogs featured and some sort of Vienna-like sausage, in place of bacon or ham.
Most hotels nowadays offer guests some sort of breakfast set for an additional charge. Many “family-style” restaurants, similar to a Denny’s, often are open 24-hours so they begin offering a morning set in the very early morning, but most coffee shops begin offering a hot breakfast around 7 a.m. and this continues until around 10 am. People who must take a train will often stop in one of these shops near the station to grab a quick breakfast before heading to work.
The city of Nagoya, in Aichi Prefecture, is quite well-known for its morning breakfast offerings called “Nagoya Morning.” At the majority of the cafés in Nagoya, customers are treated to some sort of morning set with the purchase of a drink. Sometimes it is toast with a Japanese bean paste spread called “anko” known as “ogura toast” or the regular type of breakfast as described previously. It depends upon the café and what they normally specialize in as to what they offer in these morning sets. One would think, then, that this custom of offering a morning set likely originated in Nagoya, but it actually became a thing in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture originally. Some of you may recognize Ichinomiya, Aichi from the classic film “The Seven Samurai,” where one of Japan’s most celebrated swordsmen trained, and it is the birthplace of many valiant samurai.
Ichinomiya is also well-known for being a textile industry hub, and the legend goes that many of the company owners found it difficult to talk over the loud cacophony of sounds made by the textile machines so they would meet business people at cafés outside, in which the meetings would sometimes last for hours - so, the café owners seeing the potential of this began offering these business people eggs and peanuts for free with their drinks, and this became standard and highly appreciated, and the “morning set” was born. Today, it is a nationwide concept that can be found anywhere in Japan.
During the Showa Era (1926-1989), the concept of “kissaten” (tea or coffee shop) became popular with intellectuals and artists frequenting these shops regularly. These shops specialize in coffees, and the coffee is individually made by hand and a customer can then sit there for as long as he/she wants with just the purchase of one cup of coffee - and these are normally not bottomless; for that you have to go to a Mr. Donuts or similar type of shop. The coffees featured in these types of shops are pricier than coffees in a chain shop or more modern shop, but well worth the price as it is hand-dripped and the beans are freshly ground. Many of these shops have regular customers who become quite familiar with the owner or proprietor. In 1935, there were some 10,000 kissaten in Japan and this number expanded through the 1960s. The 1980s bubble economy ushered in the concept of “cafes” which became trendy and by the 1990s, the large coffee shop chains began to push out the traditional kissaten, but many tenaciously held on, thanks to their loyal customers.
In the 1990s, I often had occasion to travel to Tokyo to meet with my publishers in the Jimbocho area of Tokyo, and this area is well-known for its used bookstores and universities, so business people and students gathered there in kissaten to chat or read a book they just purchased from one of the many used bookstores. These shops were often very old and cluttered, but oozing with atmosphere of a bygone era. Gradually these types of cafes fell out of favor with the younger generation as they weren’t considered to be posh and cool enough. Fast forward to the 2020s and these old, stale coffee shops are having a comeback with a new crop of customers, mostly Gen Zers and Millennials because they find them “retro cute.” As they say, if you live long enough, everything comes back into fashion!
Hence, “junkissa,” referring to the retro-style classic café that features tufted, velvet seats, and all sorts of other throwbacks to the Showa Era (sometimes even a rotary pay phone!) are regarded as being trendy and cool now. So, hurray for all the Mama-sans (the term given to female proprietors of these shops) who refused to change their décor and furnishings in the early 2000s and kept the old, dank, musty stuff, nicotine-covered wallpaper, and all the junk they collected over the previous 50 years, because that is now what these young people are fascinated with and find appealing. They call it “Showa Retro” and “Nostalgic Cute.” Since the year 2020, smoking is largely prohibited in these types of places, so people can enjoy the nostalgic atmosphere without the second-hand smoke wafting across the table.
A favorite chain of kissaten I like is called Hoshino Coffee, and even when it builds a new shop, it maintains that old, Showa feel with its décor and furniture. It purposefully tries to create that Showa kissaten atmosphere. Each shop features authentic hand-dripped coffee with decadent pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup - and my favorite, their homemade soufflé that can be ordered with a rich chocolate or white chocolate cream sauce. Anytime I go, there is usually a wait of about 10 minutes as it is packed with young people. They like the atmosphere of it feeling old and unusual. For me, it just seems familiar because I am old enough to remember the time when the real Showa kissaten were the places to be, and I enjoyed sitting and chatting with the other customers, even those who smoked like chimneys! Who says a bygone era can’t be relived? The younger generation is living vicariously through me by making these kissaten popular again, so “thank you, kids.”